Pay no mind to the media, say downtown staffing companies: business is booming.
Despite reports of a slow economy, San Francisco's Financial District business owners and U.S. labor statistics indicate that Bay Area college students have something to look forward to after graduation: well-paying entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.
William Ng, 26, a senior business major with a concentration in corporate finance said that although it would be great work experience, many businesses require internships of 1,600 hours of pro bono work first.
"I don't think they (businesses in the Financial District) are looking for people from San Francisco State University, though," Ng said, and added that he is looking for a government job in the public sector, because the pay is better with more benefits.
However, when asked if they would consider jobs in the Financial District or corporate sector, some students at SF State said “no.”
John McBride, a 27-year-old senior and geography major, said that although a recuiter hired him in the past for a job at a vehicle research and development company, he said he only worked there for four years before quitting, because he said he did not like the company culture. McBride currently works as a carpenter for Wilson Associates, an architecture firm located in Berkeley.
Similarly, Leanne Jones, a 21-year-old junior and international relations major, said she was more interested in working for a non-profit organization. After interviewing with AmeriCorps, Jones said she applied for eight other jobs recently without hearing back from employers. She also noted that “without a degree, or without experience,” it would probably be difficult to find work in the Financial District.
One way SF State students can find out how to work in The City and elsewhere, however, is to attend career fairs and workshops offered by the Career Center in the Student Services Building, room 206. The center recently held a job fair that drew nearly 100 businesses and 1,000 students.
James Wong, career counselor at the center, said company representatives from the Financial District attend the fairs regularly. He said interested students can also visit the Business Relations Center in BUS 112 for current employment and internship listings.
Other tips for SF State job hunters include attending career fairs sponsored by specific departments within the university. For example, students of all ethnicities interested in pursuing media-related jobs can visit the Center for Integration and Improvment of Journalism Web site at www.CIIJ.org to learn more about events, workshops and grant opportunities.
Even if new graduates do not want to work downtown, Financial District business owners still view the economy and their environment with optimism.
“I don’t think the economy is sluggish at all,” said Tony Leng, a partner at the corporate start-up Hodge, Niederer & Cariani. Instead, he said the American economy possesses an “underlying strength,” which he described as a business environment conducive to “slow, steady growth…rather than a mad scramble.”
Leng also said the current economic climate not only enables businesses to plan and develop more effectively, but he said it makes long-term investments more viable. Additionally, Leng reported that his seven-partner firm, a two year-old company specializing in high-level executive headhunting, experienced its best month ever this past January.
Likewise, Pam Connor, entrepreneur and founder of Bay Staffing Solutions, said the Financial District is thriving. She said her company, a full service staffing agency providing administrative support for real estate, financial and non-profit organizations, “fulfilled its mission statements and even exceeded its financial goals in 2005.”
Connor added she started her business nearly two years ago using her own capital. With personal savings and 22 years of experience in the staffing business, she said she took the advice of friends and other small business owners and set out on an entrepreneurial journey.
“San Francisco is a great place to have a small business,” Connor said. “Clients and companies appreciate the personal touch (afforded by) a smaller company.”
The optimistic outlook doesn’t stop there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, reported in July 2004 that workers in the Pacific region of the United States, on average, earned higher hourly wages than the rest of the nation.
Specifically, the Bureau’s National Compensation Survey indicated that workers in the West roped in nearly $21 per hour, while those in the Central Southeast made an approximate $14 per hour. Other high-wage earners included Americans in the Mid Atlantic at nearly $21 per hour and those in New England at just over $20 per hour, according to the report.
The bureau also published reports in 2005 specific to the Bay Area—San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose—indicating that white-collar professionals earned an estimated $33 per hour, while those in executive and managerial positions raked in an approximate $41 per hour.
Overall, whatever career path students choose, Wong said they should keep focused and develop a strategy for seeking employment.
While Hodge, Niederer & Cariani may not recruit at the undergraduate level, Leng said his company uses something called the “search rule” when screening CEOs.
“You are what you were,” Leng said. “Where you have worked in the past will be key in going forward with your career in the future.”