With graduation just around the corner for the class of 2018, future graduates may wonder what their options for employment after obtaining their diploma.

Kim Stack, director of the Center for Career and Experiential Education, thinks that opportunities for recent grads have increased in the past few years.

“Everything shows us that unemployment rates have been down, especially within the state of Rhode Island and nationally,” Stack said. “So we really do have to say that there’s been an upspring for our graduates to find opportunities.”

Stack said that many students at the University of Rhode Island have had success finding jobs shortly after graduation in the past, and is she is even more optimistic about the graduates this year.

“We know that typically around 70 percent of our students who are recent alumni find full or part-time positions six months after graduating, so I do see it as an upswing in the economy,” Stack said. She also said that the majority of these positions are those that require a college degree.

Although a degree is often a requirement in order to get hired, Stack emphasized that students should also embrace experiences outside the classroom, such as internships or capstone projects, to become more competitive candidates.

“I think that students who have taken the time to invest in their academics and then did some form of experiential learning are more apt to find opportunities right away because they’ve taken the context of what they’ve been learning and actually applied it to something,” Stack said.

When asked what majors are in the highest demand, Stack said she observed that many companies that recruit from URI were looking for students with STEM backgrounds.

Stack’s observations are supported by data. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the most in-demand majors by various employers tend were related to business and technology. Finance topped the list, followed by accounting, business administration and management, computer science and marketing.

However, Stack still thinks that liberal arts majors are imperative and in-demand by employers.

“[Liberal arts majors] are incredibly important because they bring great writing skills, communication skills and the ability to research and analyze data, so those majors are in high demand,” Stack said.

When asked what students should include on their resumes to get employers’ attention, Stack said that students should mention clubs they participated in, especially those in a team setting or in which a student had a leadership role. Stack also recommended that students mention previous work experience, no matter how small.

At the University’s CareerFest this past Thursday, visiting potential employers shared their thoughts on what they look for when hiring recent graduates.

“The hotel industry is really based on an emotional experience with our guests,” said Hilary Gothberg, a representative of the Grace Vanderbilt Hotel in Newport. “It’s not necessarily what major you are. If you are somebody who has a great personality and wants to make great experiences for others, we can definitely make a career.”

Donn St. Aubyn, a representative of Walgreen’s pharmacy, said that some traits that employers are interested in include communication skills and being open to change. St. Aubyn said that although Walgreen’s is a pharmacy, the company offers employment for students from a variety of backgrounds.

“There’s different opportunities for all kinds of majors. We need finance, analytics, pharmacy, all kinds,” said St. Aubyn.

Although certain employers, such as engineering firms and banks, may be looking specifically for engineering majors and finance majors, many employers are more interested in potential employee’s skills than their degree.

“We look favorably on many different majors,” said Mike Briotta of FarmTek, an agricultural supply company. “Some of these majors are agriculture or horticulture, but that’s not all we’ll look at. We’re also hiring people in engineering as well as marketing and sales. Those are just some of the majors.”

When asked what the most important skill was for future employees of any major or career to have, Briotta said that communication skills are key to getting ahead.

Students in any major or year can visit the Center for Career and Experiential Education on 90 Lower College Road for resume, internship and career advising.