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As companies merge, Loyola students mull job options













By Sophie Mair

College students in Chicago are disillusioned about future job security after the September U.S. Labor Department report listed Illinois as the second-most-difficult state to find employment. But other job reports and industry experts say students shouldn’t worry.

Price WaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services firm, reports that 43 percent of U.S. CEOs expect to or have already completed domestic mergers and acquisitions in 2013, many being Chicago-based companies.

Navistar, a holding company with headquarters in Niles, publicized their expansion through a partnership with Indiana’s Cummins Inc. just a day before the Chicago Tribune reported Navistar’s plan to cut 500 jobs by the end of the year.

Reuters released news in a report last April that only 53 percent of students nationwide were employed in the field of their study after graduating in 2013. This report came only a month before The Washington Post reported that 62 percent of college graduates nationwide had a job that required a college degree.

Jess Schomer, a senior advertising and public relations major at Loyola University Chicago, is among those students who worry that her future career could be cut short if a smaller company she were working for were to be acquired.

“I’m starting at the very beginning,” said Schomer, who has always preferred work at smaller firms and plans to pursue work at a start-up after graduation. “The scary thing is that with so many companies merging and being acquired, I’m not sure if I should pursue a job at a smaller company that I know has a chance of being changed around.”

Herb Ritchell, who directs the advertising and public relations program and coordinates internships at Loyola University Chicago, doesn’t think students have to worry about this trend of company mergers and acquisitions.

“It’s not something students seeking entry-level positions need to worry about,” he said. “It’s the employees higher up on the food chain that have the most to worry about.

Nick Verzino, a 21-year-old senior accounting major at Loyola University Chicago, who hopes to work at a large accounting firm when he graduates, is less concerned with being replaced or let go quickly. Instead he worries that mergers and acquisitions will worsen chances of getting a job within the already tough economy and competitive job market.

“I’d be a little worried about accepting a position at a small start-up company or even a larger, recently paired company — you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You never know when layoffs or internships that should lead to full-time offers end up folding.”

According to the Chicago Chief Financial Officer’s report released to PR Newswire, nine out of 10 companies are optimistic about business growth and hiring in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which concluded at the end of September.

Chicago-based companies such as Argo Tea, Sparton Corp. and GrubHub, which were start-up companies not too long ago, did not report layoffs after completing mergers.

Recently, larger companies with locations in the Chicago area have seen growth after acquiring or merging with other companies as well.

Walgreens, which is headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., acquired North Carolina pharmaceutical company Kerr Drug. Lake Forest, Ill.-headquartered Akorn acquired rival Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co. Inc. of Amityville, N.Y. without publicized layoffs.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the merger of Publicis and Omnicom this past July created more opportunities for business growth in Chicago, not job loss.

An article titled, “Things You Should Know Before Applying to Work at a Start Up,” states that the low salary and possible job instability could be worth the learning experience, and might be more relevant for some than pursuing a graduate degree because of lack of employment.

Stephen Bova, a senior at Loyola University Chicago, doesn’t see any harm in applying to recently merged companies.

“If they’re hiring immediately after, that’s a good sign for you that you won’t get laid off because you weren’t a part of the old guard that was taken from the previous company and merged into a new one,” he said.

Bova worked for Cars.com when it was founded in downtown Chicago in 2011 and doesn’t see any reason why a recent graduate should be wary about applying to a start-up company.

“Everyone in the business wants to work at a start-up company at some point because it gives you valuable insight into how a business is run from the ground up,” he said.

Santiago Delboy, a professor in the Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business has experience in the market research industry. He understands students’ concerns about job security, but said that graduation is the time for students to take risks and follow their passions.

“If what excites you is building something from scratch, having a sense of ownership and helping shape a company, a startup might be a good place, although it requires higher risk tolerance,” Delboy said.


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.