USM seniors talk about job prospects amid massive layoffs

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thursday was test day. USM senior Lacey Herrin took a few moments to review her notes before her Marketing exam. She said she decided to major in Marketing hoping there would be a lot of career options.

"I chose it because it's a lot of different occupations out there that you can get into," Herrin said.

Although the senior Marketing majors we talked to are months from sporting their caps and gowns, some have already started to feel out the job market. What they see makes them nervous.

"I was looking online last night and I noticed that accounting is the field to go into in this job market, so I'm thinking did I picked the wrong major," Shamara Liddell said.

According to the Labor Department, nearly 5 million people are collecting unemployment benefits after being laid off. The students worry how they'll stack up against so many more qualified applicants.

"A lot of people require experience, so I feel a lot of companies will probably hire those that have experience first," Herrin said.

"I wanted to do pharmaceutical sales at first, but they've had a lot of layoffs. So there are experienced pharmaceutical sales reps out there and they're looking for jobs. So probably just pretty much whatever is available."

If they don't find jobs in their chosen profession soon after graduation, the students' backup plans range from going to graduate school to just taking whatever jobs they can get.

"I think I'm just going to search for jobs that may not be the exact thing that I want," said Brooke Herrin. "Then take that job and go from there. "

The students hope by the time they're ready to march down the graduation aisle, the economic downturn will be on its way back up.

The University of Southern Mississippi had record enrollment for the Fall 2008 semester. School officials say college enrollment often increases during economic downturns.