San Miguel, land of opportunities for graduates
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
In San Miguel de Allende there are seven universities, from which an average of 300 professionals graduate each year. These youths are eager to get a job in the area. The directors of the universities say that in San Miguel there is enough work for the graduates but they must be able to take advantage of the opportunities.
According to the web page of the Secretariat of Public Education, during the 2010–2011 school year, there were a total of 1,698,032 students enrolled in schools in the state, and 100,323 of them were enrolled in one of the 306 public or private Guanjuato universities. The seven universities currently operating in the city are Universidad Continente Americano, Centro de Estudios Superiores Allende, Universidad de León, Universidad Tecnológica de San Miguel de Allende, Universidad Allende, Universidad Patria and Instituto Tecnológico SSC, where more than 2,000 sanmiguelense students are enrolled in programs such as communications, law, public accounting, business administration, architecture and gastronomy. These degrees seem to be in low demand in the city, but the students as well as the heads of the universities agree that San Miguel is a city full of opportunities in all areas.
Monitoring the graduates
The Technological University of San Miguel de Allende (UTSMA) is the only public university in the municipality and surroundings. Currently there are 510 students enrolled in this school, and in May the first generation of tourism (35) and gastronomy (75) students graduated. Carolina Cuéllar Flores, coordinator of professional services, said that
in order to find out whether their students have gotten jobs they are monitoring their progress for five years after graduation. Cuéllar noted that most of the time when the students finish college they are already working in places where they were offered residencies or jobs. “The entrepreneurs invited them to stay because they can see the talent of our students,” said Cuéllar, who also commented that they have a liaison with local companies that allows the students to gain real experiences and see the real problems they will face once they finish their academic training. The UTSMA has agreements with companies offering tourism services in the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and, in the US, Indianapolis, and they are already working to form other agreements with companies in France and Spain.
José de Jesús Lazcano, general director of the Universidad de León campus San Miguel de Allende (UDL), commented that this year 85 students finished their degrees in law, administration, communications, public accounting, psychology or architecture. According to him, the students are prepared to get a job but also are ready to launch their own businesses. He said that in San Miguel there are enough opportunities for employment but the students need to be able to take advantage of the opportunities. According to Lazcano, all the small, medium and large companies need an organizational psychologist, an administrator or an accountant, but the companies need to acknowledge it, because most of the time for them it is easy to hire someone who knows how to do the work but without a professional education, and that is cheaper for them. The director said that currently 80 percent of the graduates are working, 60 percent of them in a field related to their degrees.
The Universidad Continente Americano opened in San Miguel in August 2000. Since then, more than 900 professionals have finished their studies there. According to Hilda Pérez, head of the university, this August more than 60 students will finish their degrees in law, accounting, administration or preschool education. She said that in San Miguel there are opportunities to work and that currently 60 percent of those about to finish their studies are already working in jobs related to their area. Pérez commented that those who finish the degree in preschool education can take an exam to obtain work in the national educational system. In 2011 one of the students from this school who took the exam had the fourth-highest score and is currently working for the government; others are working for private institutions. The director also commented that they have direct communication with local companies in order to find positions for their graduates, who start with residencies and most of the time are invited to stay with the company. “Also, we are happy because this year the first phase of our own building will be finished. It will allow us to move to better facilities. The first phase of construction will include 20 classrooms,” she said.
Opinions from the graduates
María Susana Olvera Bárcenas studied gastronomy at the UTSMA and commented that when she started studying she did not think she would work in San Miguel. She did her residency at the Riviera Maya but did not get an offer to stay, although she wanted to. Currently she works in a restaurant in the historic center and said that her having a degree helped her
to get that job over other candidates. Ignacio Morales, from the same university, comes from Santa Catarina, a municipality near San Miguel, and he decided to study gastronomy in San Miguel and get a job in the city because of the tourism here. Morales did his residency in Puerto Vallarta, where he was offered a job but did not want to take it because he prefers to be in San Miguel, closer to his family. Gerardo Garay interned in Querétaro and also got an offer, which he did not take because he wants to study for a master’s degree.
Students from the UDL, such as Rafael Quiroz, will finish their school year in August. He studied organizational psychology and commented that once he finishes college he will start working in sales in a local company, where he will be able to apply the psychological principles he studied. Cecilia Casas studied architecture; and she did her professional service in the city. She has received some job offers, although she could not take them because she is still in school. In August, after finishing college, she has an offer to work in Mexico City. Juan José Godínez studied marketing and graduated last year but could not find a job in his area; now he is working as a secretary in an office but said that he wants to study for a master’s degree. Students from the UCA said that they already have jobs.
Economic growth of the city
María José Garrido Eraña, director of Tourism, Economic Development and International Affairs of the municipality, said that San Miguel will continue to grow, partly owing to the improvement of the aerodrome, the construction of a retirement center, the new center for the arts as well as some vineyards already planted, all of which will attract more investment to generate needed jobs.
Garrido said that in San Miguel there is employment, and that in the current administration they have created 389 new jobs through the opening of 322 businesses of low and medium impact at an investment of 15 million pesos. Garrido also commented that through the office for employment of the local government they have placed 89 applicants in new jobs and they already have 92 vacant posts. “In San Miguel there are opportunities to get a job,” she concluded.