An outlook on openings

Ellen Nelson

Ellen Nelson

SDSU students may be united this year in their struggle to find a job in Brookings, as some of the city’s top employers lay off workers or impose hiring freezes.

Signs of the recession are visible at Daktronics, Inc., a local employer known for hiring students.

Senior Erica Doppenberg from Andover, Minn., has been employed with Daktronics, Inc. in Brookings for just over one year and is able to testify to the visible changes and cutbacks that the company has gone through since the country’s economic crisis.

“They just did their first set of cutbacks in Sioux Falls because of the decrease in billboard sales, but they haven’t shown signs of laying any more off,” said Doppenberg. “When I first started, there were nine students in my department. Some transferred to other departments or graduated last May. Now we are down to six because they aren’t replacing.”

Students usually were guaranteed positions once they graduated, but now, considering the company’s cutbacks, full-time positions will be harder to get, she said. Doppenberg has also noticed differences in her department’s policies.

“Health benefits were cut back, including the rising cost of gym membership fees,” she said. “No overtime hours are allowed, along with the hiring of new employees being an internal-only basis.”

Daktronics only has two full-time positions offered through their online database.

At Rainbow, another large employer of students, the situation is not any better. The company just announced its fourth round of layoffs on Sept. 14. According to a company press release, the employer reduced its workforce by 60 employees in its Brookings and Albert Lea, Minn., facilities in the latest round of cuts.

In view of this tight job market, professors and career specialists are advising students to take appropriate measures now to deal with the possible lack of employment opportunities they may face upon earning their diploma.

“Students should gain as much experience that they can outside of the classroom to make them more employable,” said Evert Van der Sluis, department head of economics.

Some of the top qualities that employers are looking for on a student’s resume include excellent communication skills, leadership qualities and reliability, said Van der Sluis. He also urges extracurricular involvement, as well as participation with an internship relating to their major – some significant experiences that probably won’t appear anywhere on a resume.

“Reading a newspaper a day about something that interests you is another great way to gain employability,” Van der Sluis said, “by providing insight and perhaps a possible future path for you.”

Jeff Kjenstad, manager of the Brookings office of the Department of Labor, agrees with Van der Sluis and advises students to strengthen their resumes and not jump from job to job. All students should have some sort of part-time work while still in school, he said.

“A good work history and apparent dedication to a job is a quality that employers search for,” said Kjenstad.

One opportunity to get a taste of the job market is the part-time job fair, which will be held on Sept. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Volstorff Ballroom of The Union. Kjenstad said students can check out and register on the Web site if they are not able to attend the part-time job fair.

“(The Web site) will send out an e-mail to automatically notify you of a position available that correlates with your interests,” Kjenstad said.

Another beneficial Web site is, which describes good career opportunities and up-to date happenings, Kjenstad said.

“(The Department of Labor) has two offices in Brookings and always welcomes students to come meet with us,” Kjenstad said.

The Department of Labor office on the SDSU campus is located in the basement of Medary Commons.