Top jobs for fresh grads

Believe it or not, bank jobs are still in favour

IF the worldwide economic slump gives you second thoughts about pursuing a career as a banker, think again.

Wall Street financial wizards, who are responsible for the rut that we are all in right now, are back in the game.

There are maybe fewer of them around today with the industry’s heartland in New York and London in financial ruins, but the slick money men at Goldman Sachs and Citicorp are still being paid top dollar for their employment.

At home, where our financial institutions are more sober minded, university degree holders hired as junior executives or management trainees can expect to earn RM2,000 a month onwards during their first year.

Young graduates will be tasked with some sales and marketing chores, but a bit of hard work would put you well on your path to becoming a well-compensated investment banker.

Banks do give higher pay packages to those hired in specialised areas like information communication technology (ICT), with top talents getting RM3,000 a month or more.

According to recent survey by Kelly Services Malaysia, computer savvy graduates command a higher starting salary compared to others.

Software engineers who understand computer language, make as much as RM2,800 a month fresh out of the university. IT analysts earn less, but not by much.

If you’ve got a knack for sales, then you may be off to a good start as well, as top sales and marketing executives in the services industry are hired for as much as a geek is worth.

The survey by Kelly Services Malaysia was released in June and was based on actual transaction between the third quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year.

“Starting salaries for graduates with little or no working experience in some industries are picking up again in the third quarter,’’ the firm’s marketing director Jeannie Khoo told StarBizWeek.

The biggest demand remained for those with at least a year’s working experience. Graduates with as little as three years of working life could double their starting salary if they are equipped with the right talent and are in the right industry.

According to interviews with several executives at recruitment agencies, first time worker’s salary peaked in 2007, before the economic crisis curbed new hirings.

With the economy showing signs of a recovery, rates may continue to creep up in the coming months.

Among the “hot spots” for graduates are the power generation and water treatment sectors, where technical staff can earn as much as RM2,600 a month in base salary.

In the oil and gas segment, demand for engineering staff remains high, although this is skewed towards those with working experience. First year salary starts at RM2,000 at most local firms, but graduate salary will go up rapidly with the right career strategy.

Kencana Petroleum Bhd’s top management told investors in a recent briefing that the biggest challenge facing the industry is the shortage of skilled workers.

The need to attract and retain skilled workers had prompted Petronas to revamp its employees’ remuneration structure last year. Fresh graduates now starts at about RM3,500 at the national oil company, with those with technical background getting extra. Petronas has always been one of the best place for young graduates to launch their career.

Another top local employer, Bank Negara, offers salary starting from RM2,900 a month for young degree holders.

But not all university graduates are lucky enough to land a decent job that pays as well. Most will have to make do with average salaries ranging from RM1,700 to RM2,400.