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Employers Favor YSU Science, Business Majors

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – If you’re about to graduate from Youngstown State University with a degree in business, engineering, computer science, social work, criminal justice, biology, chemistry, health care or education, 113 of the 114 employers at the job fair the university held Tuesday were interested in meeting you.

Even if you’re majoring in philosophy, English, or history, there were employers interested in talking to you. Most employers in this group are government agencies or nonprofits, but all (except one) are actively recruiting the talent needed to replace those near retirement or to fulfill their expanded missions.

One employer, the Youngstown Police Department, doesn’t require a college diploma to join its ranks. Senior patrolman Malik Mostella said the Youngstown police force is one of the few in the area that doesn’t require a baccalaureate to join.

The city will hold its next civil services exams in January, but those interested in taking it “must apply three months in advance,” Mostella said. The city wants to hire 20 more patrolmen, so he wants to get the word out. When the civil service commission computes the scores, graduates get more points for earning their college degrees, he said.

Only 40% of those on the force with college degrees majored in criminal justice, Mostella guessed. “But we have officers with a wide variety of interests [majors],” he said.

English majors would be valued. “Knowing how to write an arrest report,” he explained, is critical because of the time between the arrest of a suspect and when and whether he goes to trial. Because of scheduling conflicts, other delays and continuances, it can be as long as two or three years before a suspect goes on trial.

A well-written arrest report helps prosecutors as they proceed and aids a jury in its deliberations, Mostella said.

The U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio, which includes Youngstown, is looking for graduates with degrees in information technology, criminal justice, finance, computer programming and computer forensics, says its human resources director, Sandy Opacich. Liberal arts majors “who can show a strong attention to detail” would be considered, especially in “the operations process and recordkeeping, she said.

The court is looking to hire operations and IT specialists in its courthouses in Youngstown, Opacich said, as well as probation officers and staff to handle pre-trial services. Liberal arts majors with “strong writing skills and strong presentation skills,” she suggested, could demonstrate these strengths in the pre-trial hearings judges and magistrates hold.

Foreign countries ask the Peace Corps for volunteers who can teach mathematics and science, recruiter Annabel Khouri said, but the demand for volunteers to teach their citizens how to speak English is equally strong.

The Peace Corps received applications from people with a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of knowledge. ”We get a lot of anthropology, sociology, psychology, history and English majors,” she said. “We look at education and experience, their volunteerism and community involvement.”

People volunteer for the Peace Corps out of altruism, Khouri said, and because “they have personal goals and want to travel.”

While the agency has expanded the types of backgrounds it recruits from, competition for the 3,000 openings it has each year has increased. “There are over 17,000 applications for 3,000 spots,” she said.

Besides liberal arts majors, the Peace Corps is looking for business majors who can help with community economic development – something Khouri did in Kenya when she served there from 1996 to 1998 – to teach agriculture and about protecting the environment, and youth-in-development. The last includes working with at-risk youths.

Because her table sat between two tables for school districts, about half of the dozen students who stopped by before noon were education majors, she said.

The job fair was a homecoming for Don Leone, class of 1987, insurance sales manager for the East Central Ohio District of the AAA. As are many other organizations, the AAA is looking for salesmen. Leone was looking for business majors to sell home and auto insurance but said some liberal arts majors stopped by to ask about opportunities “in areas other than sales.”

The AAA does have such openings, Leone related, as travel agents, branch specialists and membership services.

The one employer not actively recruiting was iHeart Media, formerly Clear Channel Communications. Manning a table again was Thomas Johns who related that students continue to drop off their resumes as iHeart continues to reduce its workforce in Youngstown. “But we have built a backlog of strong resumes,” he said.

John shows up each year because the Federal Communications Commission requires, “We must do three jobs fairs a year to keep our license.”

PICTURED: Linda Kimmy and Roman Fedorko recruit students for the Cleveland Health Department’s Division of Air Quality.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.