Graduates from the University of Wisconsin’s Stephen L. Hawk Center for Applied Security Analysis have long entered the rigorous two-year master’s degree program with a passion for investment analysis and the promise of starting a secure job within weeks of graduation.

The economic recession, however, is rapidly changing the job market, and as graduation looms around the corner, students are finding themselves with the prospect of unemployment.

According to Kevin Spellman, a finance faculty associate in the School of Business, for the first time only eight out of the 17 students graduating this spring have secured jobs, and the others will have to search much harder for employment in a field that has few openings in times of economic hardship.

“The economy is clearly impacting jobs,” Spellman said. “So we’re being creative. We’re establishing relationships, establishing connections … but it is going to be tough for full-time students to get a job. Internships placement is also a challenge.”

Internships may just be the answer for the students who are still searching for employment, yet finding paid internships has proved to be as difficult as finding a job.

Spellman added an on-going job hunt can be discouraging to students who are as well qualified as UW graduates are.

“This program is considered one of the best investment programs in the country,” Spellman said. “And that’s being modest. All of our students come into the program with a passion for investment analysis and some sort of propensity for research and analysis. It’s hard work. Essentially by the time these people graduate, they will have training from academics and will have worked full-time all before graduation.”

Business professor Mark Ready said the university is doing everything possible to give their struggling graduates every advantage possible, including coordinating employment by contacting outside connections.

“Ultimately, we can only help the students so much,” Ready said. “It falls on them that they’re much more prepared.”

UW alumnus Derek Jose, who recently graduated from the program and is still searching for employment, said although the availability of desirable jobs in his field does worry him to some extent, he feels most graduating students from every field are probably pretty nervous about finding jobs after graduation.

“I think the thing is, the harder you work at it, the less nervous you get because the harder you work at finding a job, the more confident you are that something is going to work out,” Jose said.

Spellman thinks many students are less nervous because they realize, despite the odds, they are still receiving top educational experiences.

“This is the single-best learning environment they could possibly be in. When times are going well, people tend to not learn as much — if their portfolios are doing well, they don’t sit back and think, ‘Why am I doing well?'” Spellman said.