2013 Grads Facing Few Jobs, New Potential Career Paths

The fact that the recession in the US has been over for years hasn’t quite trickled down to affect the employment prospects of 2013 college graduates, NPR reports. Although there are reasons to be optimistic that the job market is improving, according to Andrew Schneider, seniors who are earning their degrees this year are continuing to struggle to land their first jobs.

How much of a struggle it will be depends heavily on a student’s major. Graduates with highly-skilled degrees – especially those in technology field – are more in demand as employees than those with a degree in liberal arts. John Challenger of the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas explains that companies are interested in “hard skills” that could be immediately useful. Graduates who don’t require a lot of additional training and can step up and prove their value immediately are proving to be more sought after than students who can not.

According to Jamie Belinne, who is an assistant dean for career services at University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business says that the job situation is slowly improving this year – more students are getting job offers and those offers are coming earlier in the spring.

SCHNEIDER: But what about graduates who don’t have a technical background? Belinne says there are more opportunities for them, as well, but they still need an edge.

BELINNE: If you’re not going to have a technical skill set, you need to have a very strong communications skill set.

For some, strong communication skills have translated into jobs in ways that they didn’t expect. For example, Katylyn Degner, who graduated from University of Houston with a degree an anthropology managed to parlay hers into placement as a scheduling assistant at a water filtration company.

But not everyone has been as lucky. Another UH graduate, J.C. Gage – whose degree is in public relations and who is a former Iraq vet – says that although he managed to get an internship at a newspaper and another at a PR firm, he hasn’t been able to land a full-time job quite yet.

J. C. GAGE: I’m working nine to four, Monday through Thursday, and then I’m working four nights a week at the Chronicle, from six to midnight. So my sleep and full-time job search is postponed until the weekend, pretty much.

SCHNEIDER: It’ll be a while before the jobs numbers for the class of 2013 come in. But a study recently released by the Economic Policy Institute may provide a preview. The report found that last year, both the unemployment and underemployment rates for workers under 25 were double the national averages.