The next chapter

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This is the second part in a series following two December graduates through the first stages of new careers. These articles are intended to examine the degrees of success of separate students in different fields and examine the general economic trends that affect graduates after leaving school. The series appears on the second Thursday of every month throughout second semester.

When Michael Kowalsky graduated from the College of Engineering in December, he knew that his search for a job would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

Last month, he said he had not found a new job and was holding on to his old job from college.

He is still trying to find a new job, having had only four interviews since college and just one in the last month. Not much is available in his field, mechanical engineering.

"One interview was for a consulting firm dealing with plumbing design and engineering," said Kowalsky, a Brown Deer native. He said it was the job closest to what he actually wanted. He has also interviewed for jobs in sales engineering and hydraulics, but neither were promising.

Despite that, he is planning to stay the course. He just moved into a new apartment and is making enough money at his old job to live.

"I'm in no bad shape whatsoever," Kowalsky said.

He has worked at his current job, with the Oberlin Filter Company, as a mechanical designer for about five years now, he said. However, he started looking outside the company because very few new opportunities were available to him there.

"They told me that if a project manager is needed, I would fill that position," Kowalsky said. However, there has been no new position created for him to fill, so he said that he believed he had gone as far as he could with Oberlin.

He said he wonders if asking Marquette for assistance in finding a job would have helped him.

"I would have rather co-opted through Marquette," Kowalsky said. He said a person he knew had done so six or seven years ago with a company, and the person is still with the same company and doing well. However, he said "six or seven years ago, the market was a lot better than it is now."

Laura Kestner, the director of the Career Services Center, said it may have helped Kowalsky to work through the CSC.

"Eighty percent of students who co-op or intern through Marquette get a full-time job at the end of their co-op or internship," Kestner said. "Also, because a student earns credit for a co-op or internship, it is more guided than just getting a job." She later said that the breadth of experience gained from a co-op or internship was something employers were looking for.

Even then, in Kowalsky's field of mechanical engineering, Kestner said, there was not much available. She said employers had told her that they need to hire but don't have the money to do so, and that many engineering positions were now being sent overseas.

Maryann Desaulniers, assistant director of the Career Services Center, said engineering jobs are going abroad because of globalization. "Factories are being built abroad because of low wages that country has so the U.S. company will save money." Once abroad, companies often hire local engineers.

Melanie Holden-Pichelmann, a Milwaukee resident and December graduate of the College of Nursing, is doing fine — perhaps a little busier, but she is happy with her job. She had her nursing job at the Brain and Coma Center at the Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute before she graduated, and her work is beginning to increase. She said that new workers at the center go through an orientation of 12 weeks, and she is about seven weeks through it at the moment.

"I have a checklist of stuff that I have to have down by the end of orientation," Holden-Pichelmann said. She started with some minor tasks but is doing everything from blood pressure to handling feeding tubes now.

"The hardest things for me to do are things that the patients usually could do by themselves, but (because of brain injuries) can't," Holden-Pichelmann said.

She likes her job but has noticed an odd trend among those who are rehabilitating at the center.

"There's a lot of nudity," she said. "They like to take off their clothes — I don't know what it is."

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