Greg Dubé, a 23-year-old chemical engineering major, graduates from Northeastern University Friday, without a job and lots of student loans. Is he worried? Here’s what he told Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene.
I’m counting down the days until commencement, when I’ll be graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in chemical engineering. I’m excited about receiving my diploma, the capstone of five years of hard work, but disappointed that I haven’t yet landed a job. I’m not overly concerned, at least for the short term, but in six months, once student loans kick in, it’s a bit more worrisome. I’m probably looking at paying back around $150,000.
I know opportunities for chemical engineers took a hit during the recession due to a decline in manufacturing and construction and rising oil prices. But competition for jobs has been fierce, and I’m a newbie.
Almost every job I’ve seen on job search engines require two to three years experience. There have been a lot of layoffs in the last few years, so I’m essentially competing against people who have been working a while in the industry. I have two different internships on my resume, one at a biopharmaceutical plant and another at a life-science supplier, but there are no opportunities at either company.
I’ve applied to jobs in Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Houston, Austin, and a couple cities in Florida. Back in February, I interviewed for an engineering sales position in the Midwest but it was a highly competitive position. The day I was there, they had already interviewed 24 other candidates. I wasn’t quite up to snuff for what they were looking for. But I met some of my competition, and they were incredible people; that I was among them felt like I had done something right.
I’ve actually had more interviews for financial institutions than engineering. I didn’t even apply to these jobs — recruiters find me on LinkedIn. But it’s not a career I want to do, either financial adviser or some sort of direct sales job.
As of right now, I’ll be moving home after graduation where I’ll work the same part-time job I used to have prior to college. I was a waiter at a Holliston bar and grill: Hopefully, they’ll let me be a bartender, since I’ve since received my certification.
Other than that, my full-time job will be applying for more jobs. I’ve already applied for over 75, including more than 30 from Northeastern job fairs.
My dad is very networked within his industry — he sells dental wastewater management equipment, so I plan to go with him on some business trips, meet with companies, and maybe get some interviews that way.
I’m on the Ultimate Frisbee team and No Limits dance crew, two pastimes that are on my resume as interests. I’m not sure these activities will help me get a job, but they help keep me grounded. My family is also incredibly supportive. So no matter what happens, I’ll be OK.