Although UCSB’s campus planning departments traditionally hire many employees who have graduated from the university, the ailing job market is threatening to remove that opportunity for many soon-to-be-graduates.
As the largest employer in the region, UCSB can be seen as a convenient transition for graduates looking to switch from the student body to the general workforce. As such, many fresh graduates have historically gone straight into working for UCSB after completing their undergraduate or graduate degrees. However, some campus planners say, fewer and fewer UCSB graduates are finding the transition from student to employee as accessible as it has been in the past.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities Marc Fisher said employees who graduated from UCSB anywhere from three to 30-plus years ago constitute a key component of the campus planning framework.
“We actually have quite a few UCSB graduates working for us,” Fisher said. “I think Facilities, which is involved in energy management, really has an attraction to people who are passionate about things like carbon footprints.”
Oftentimes, Fisher said, recent graduates — in part worried by meager entry-level salary opportunities — turn to the university to provide a stepping stone to a larger-scale career.
“We’re willing to hire young and have a person who doesn’t necessarily make as much money right away, but then develops skill sets to go on into management, etc.,” Fisher said. “This is a very slim economic time, so there aren’t many positions available, but when there are positions available we like to think about hiring young, bright minds from our local community.”
However, Tye Simpson, director of Campus Planning and Design and a UCSB alumnus, said a general decline in jobs available at UCSB has translated into diminished employment opportunities for recent graduates.
“I would say that there were a number of us who were university grads who ended up working at UCSB but I think that’s a declining, not raising trend,” Simpson said. “People are leaving the university, not getting hired.”
Simpson, who majored in political science as a UCSB undergraduate, said finding a job at UCSB was an unexpected side-effect of an on-campus internship.
“I am and was interested in city planning as my sort of undergraduate thing, but I didn’t go to school with the purpose of getting employment at the university,” Simpson said. “The university is the largest employer in the region so it’s not surprising that many of us would seek employment here.”
Recent UCSB alumna Leslie Mancebo is one of the lucky graduates who snagged a job at her alma mater. Now the Transportation & Parking Services Alternative Transportation Program committee coordinator, Mancebo said working for the UC system can function either as a starting point or a long-term career goal.
“There are a wide variety of positions on this campus and throughout the UC system,” Mancebo said. “I am still considering going to graduate school in the future and right now this is a great opportunity for me to get some experience and pay off my loans and possibly work for the University of California after getting a graduate degree.”
However, Simpson said, the occasion of UC degrees translating into urban design and engineering jobs through the campus planning departments is currently quite unlikely.
“We don’t have a construction school, we don’t have a planning school and we don’t give degrees in any of the trades, which is more of a Cal State program,” Simpson said. “There are a lot of studies not related to UCSB employment. A degree in engineering wouldn’t really translate into an engineering job at UCSB. The people I work with in the facilities are mechanical engineers.”