Homecoming

After graduating, some seniors find themselves back where they were four years ago - at home.

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About one week after he walks the stage this weekend after earning a degree in political economy, Tom Tran will take another big step - moving back home with his parents in Orange County.

Tran secured a job in Macy's Leadership Development program last fall, but since he knew the position would be near home, he said it made sense financially to move in with his folks until he can find his own place.

"I'm not looking forward to living with my parents, but it will be OK since it's only for a little while," he said. "My parents are really old. I was the third child, and I had two siblings who passed away before I was born ... It would be nice to spend more time with my parents."

While some are able to start living independently soon after leaving UC Berkeley's grounds, others face the prospect of moving the same taped-up cardboard boxes that they moved into their first apartments right back home with mom and pops. It may be because they can't find a job, because the position they have landed pays little to nothing or because of economic purposes, like Tran's.

"It was awful," said Patrick Stelmach of having to move home soon after graduating last May with a degree in political science and society and environment. "It was nice to be back home and to see my friends again from high school ... but it was hard to feel like there was something else out there."

For Stelmach, living in the "grueling atmosphere" of job-hunting in the suburbs of Sacramento only lasted five months before he was able to land a job working on Phil Ting's campaign for mayor of San Francisco and move out.

Others face longer durations at home. Patrick Samuel, who graduated in December 2008 with a degree in conservation and resource studies and who also moved home to Sacramento, spent six months job-hunting before finding a job at a consulting firm in Oakland, but he was miserable and soon quit. After getting laid off from another job, he was on unemployment for several months before he landed a job at Sports Authority, which also took months of searching to find.

In an email, he said about two dozen of his close friends from various universities graduated around the same time he did, but he only knows two who are not living at home with their parents.

"I would be lying if I said I never felt regret about going to Cal over some of the other private schools I applied to that might have provided better networking to land a job after graduation," he said in the email. "We are inundated with 'best public school in the country' talk during our (undergraduate years) at Berkeley, but even that outstanding reputation means nothing in such a tough job market."

Though times are still hard, some say there are signs of improvement. The recent "Just in Time" job fair on campus boomed with 156 employers compared to 97 last year and was spread out over two days rather than just one, as had been the case since the financial crisis hit in 2008.

"It seems as though we've in some respects turned a corner," said Suzanne Helbig, assistant director for counseling and marketing at the campus Career Center. "It's still challenging for students, but there seems to be some glimmers of hope."

Though Tran is moving home, he said he is extremely excited about the opportunity with Macy's and that he hopes to go far in the company. His parents are even more excited.

"My mom is still counting down the days until I come back home," he said with a laugh. "They're really happy. I guess I'll be happy to see them, too - not as happy as my mom though."

Tags: GRADUATION


Contact Emma Anderson at [email protected]



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