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Driving Force Helps Grad Shift Gears, Land Job
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Driving Force Helps Grad Shift Gears, Land Job

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Our series, Setting Out, has featured so many college graduates struggling to find jobs that it may be a bit of a relief to meet one young man in Ohio who can relax this summer. He has a degree from a top university and he has a job lined up.

Mhari Saito of member station WCPN in Cleveland has the story of a new graduate who will soon start his career in business.

MHARI SAITO: After graduating from Case Western Reserve University in May, 22-year-old Duwain Pinder moved back home to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.

His mom, Dora, quickly put him to work, dealing with one of the effects the recession has had on their family. The local school district is in financial trouble, and last year's failed school levy meant the end of bus service for its high schoolers.

Ms. DORA PINDER: So his sister, we had to transport her to school and so he's been doing the pickup every day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DUWAIN PINDER: (unintelligible) I'm like a chauffer, so.

SAITO: Since graduation, Pinder has also been doing errands around the house and catching up with friends and family. One thing he's not doing is looking for a job. But he finds that when he tells people his post-graduation plans, the response is always the same.

Mr. PINDER: Yeah, it's more like, you know, oh so have you graduated? And I'm like, yes. And they're like well, congratulations on graduating. They're like well, do you know what you're going to do after? And, you know, I'm like oh well, I have a job in Cleveland. They're like oh, you have a job? That's awesome.

SAITO: Pinder initially dreamed of being an investment banker. And from his freshman year of college he pursued that goal hard. He held internships at financial companies every summer, served as student body president and made the dean's list.

In the fall of 2007, he traveled to New York and toured Wall Street investment banks. But just a year later, the company where he hoped to work collapsed in the country's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Mr. PINDER: I wanted to work for Lehman Brothers. But then, you know, that kind of didn't happen, so it was just interesting because it was like, you know, this was a career path that I wanted to go into and it's not there anymore.

SAITO: After talking with college advisers, Pinder decided to look at management consulting firms. He soon found that for these companies he had to relearn how to do a job interview.

Mr. PINDER: They'll give you a business problem and kind of go through some iterations of, you know, what you think about the problem, how you would solve it if you had the information necessary. And that's something I never did before. I did a lot of practice.

SAITO: Hours and hours of practice. The work paid off, though. Duwain Pinder got interviews with JP Morgan, Deloitte & Touche, and McKinsey & Company. He got offers from all three.

Assistant Dean Jim Hurley advises Pinder and other business and economics majors at Case. In the current job market, Hurley says students have to start working towards their career goals early.

Dr. JIM HURLEY (Assistant Dean, Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve): When you think about Duwain, you have to remember that, I mean, he didn't start his job search in his senior year. I mean, he was very career-focused when he came in to the university, and then, he's one of our very, very best and brightest. And I think that his experiences, the Case Western Reserve name, opened a lot of doors. But there were some students who found things tougher this year.

SAITO: In a few weeks, Duwain Pinder will start his professional career as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company. Duwain credits his mom, Dora, for helping him stay focused on the future.

Dora says there are jobs out there, but graduates looking for work have to be creative and persistent.

Ms. PINDER: I tell people this all the time. Go out and volunteer and try to get something on your resume. You're not doing anything anyway, so just unique things to market yourself. And so they will get jobs, eventually.

SAITO: And this anyone is proof that strategy works even in these tough times -it's Duwain Pinder.

For NPR News, I'm Mhari Saito in Cleveland.

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