Portland Business Journal: How internships gave these PSU grads an edge in the job market
Author: Suzanne Pardington Effros
Posted: June 28, 2019

To read the original story, visit Portland Business Journal.

Amy Morales did everything right to land a job after graduating from Portland State University.

She picked a field with red-hot employment prospects: tax accounting. She networked every chance she got, filling her schedule with career events, mock interviews and resume critique sessions. And she interned with Ernst & Young, an international Big-4 accounting firm.

Her strategy paid off with a full-time job offer at Ernst & Young, a job she calls her “perfect fit.”

She is among nearly 6,100 new PSU graduates who are entering one of the best job markets for new college graduates since 2007, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

New grads who have completed internships, like Morales, are even more likely to be hired than those without them, the survey says. Top majors for employers include finance, accounting, mechanical engineering, computer science and business.

Morales is joining more than 100,000 PSU alumni who live and work in the Portland region. About 83% of this year’s PSU grads are from Oregon, and 33% are from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Most of them received scholarships and financial aid.

Portland State prepares students for jobs with career-building opportunities built into all of its academic programs. PSU students gain connections and work experience in internships and community projects through innovative programs such as PSU CO-OP and Senior Capstones.

Shepol Meman turned his passion for cars and innovation into a job with Daimler Trucks North America, his dream company. PSU and Daimler have a strategic partnership that helps shape what students learn and links them to internships and high-paying jobs. Daimler employs about 150 PSU graduates.

Daimler is one of the top six employers of PSU grads, according to LinkedIn. The others are Intel, Oregon Health & Science University, Nike, Providence Health Services and Kaiser Permanente.

Like Morales, Meman started as a paid intern with Daimler while a mechanical engineering student at PSU. His work at Daimler and scholarships helped him pay for college.

Meman’s parents fled Kurdistan in northern Iraq in 1996, before he was born. His older brother, Shalaw, was the first in his family to go to college and graduated from PSU in 2015 with degrees in accounting and finance.

In 2017, Meman won an innovation grant and created a new technology called the “SafetyTrckr ” to prevent human error in driving, including alerting drivers when they fall asleep at the wheel. He hopes it will be used someday in cars and trucks.

“I believe in PSU because of the kinds of graduates it produces,” he says. “This is a gateway that offers a foundation for success. Being at PSU, I’ve never been told ‘no.’ If you have an idea, go for it.”

Morales also followed her older brother, Leo, to PSU. Her parents were born in Mexico and could only afford to attend school through the sixth grade. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from PSU in 2018.

One year later she is graduating again, this time with a master’s degree in taxation. This partially online program is structured to allow students like Morales to work while completing a master’s degree in 12 months.

Networking was a cornerstone of her PSU experience. She served as president of Beta Alpha Psi at PSU, an honor organization for finance and accounting students focused on bridging the gap between college and the professional world.

Her PSU professors guided and supported her through the hiring process, she said.

“PSU professors really care about the successes of their students and their careers,” she said. “They’re always sharing job opportunities and giving us valuable advice from their personal experience.”

Morales’ older brother also has a master’s degree in taxation from PSU, and her younger brother, Manuel, is studying marketing at PSU.

“I will forever be grateful for my parents encouraging me and my siblings to attend school and make something of our lives,” she said. “And they are grateful for our teachers and scholarship donors who’ve supported us along the way.”