Local jobs scarce for grads

Two seniors recently turned down jobs with corporate-giant Walmart in hopes of staying in small-town Siloam Springs. But limited employers and positions make finding a local job difficult.

More students want to stick around after graduation, but the possibility of unemployment keeps them searching.

According to Director of Career Development Chris Confer, Siloam Springs only houses four major employers: Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital, Cobb-Vantress, Western Federal Credit Union and DaySpring.

He believes employment opportunities are scarce for graduates because companies in Siloam Springs are committed to loyal employees who have worked for their company for many years.

While many businesses are not hiring here, Northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma are thriving with employment opportunities.

According to the City of Siloam Springs, the unemployment rate of Northwest Arkansas is 7.4% while the unemployment rate for the nation is 8.8%.

Though there are more employment opportunities in Northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma, the appeal of staying in Siloam Springs keeps students at bay.

According to Confer, many students stay in Siloam Springs because they are bound to leases from their homes, are appealed to small town life or are missionary kids whose home became Arkansas.

“If students are sticking around after graduation, the reality is that they’ll need to commute because the prospect of staying in Siloam Springs isn’t very high,” Confer said.

A lack of jobs scares senior Miriam Boehr as she searches for post-graduation work, ideally in Siloam Springs.

“I’m willing to go to Springdale or somewhere up to 45 minutes away if it is absolutely necessary, but I would love to work in town to cut gas and be able to be close to my husband during our first year of marriage,” Boehr explained.

While the chances of finding a job in town may be slim, doing an internship will increase the ability of students to get hired.

“Because we’re a small town, we celebrate big businesses and most companies use internship programs as a three-to-six month interview process,” Confer said. “People will find room for you if you do a great job.”

Confer advises students to do two internships, one the summer after their sophomore year and the other after their junior year.

“Eighty-four percent of the jobs people obtain are never publicly listed because it occurs strictly through networking,” he said.

Students can also increase their employment opportunities by signing up for the University’s job board that includes jobs in and outside of Arkansas.

Career Development Services encourages students to upload their resume on the job board and check regularly for updated employment opportunities.