Job Prospects for College Seniors Looking Up

Things could be looking up for 2012 college graduates, The Washington Post reports. The post-graduate employment numbers are looking to be the best since the beginning of the recession in 2008. The number of students landing jobs once classes end in May and June is highest than its been in four previous years.

This means that the lucky streak that seemed to have attached itself to the class of 2012 continues. While graduates who left the school between 2008 and 2011 were struggling to land work in a frigid job market, college students leaving school this year were largely insulated from the recession's effects and are encountering much sunnier prospects as they themselves are starting to look for work.

They used their college years to prepare for the brutal realities of the job market that would await them. They began networking for jobs much earlier, as freshmen in some cases. They pursued summer internships not simply as resume boosters, but as gateways to permanent jobs. And they developed more realistic expectations about landing a job in the ideal place and at the ideal salary

The optimism is also reflected in the attitudes of the seniors frequenting their college career centers. Those interviewed expressed such marked optimism that career center staffers even took notice.

"It's just been such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008," says Mercy Eyadiel, who oversees career development at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Back then, openings disappeared overnight and companies were calling recent graduates to rescind offers. "It was a very bad, ugly situation."

Part of the optimism however could come from tempered expectations. After all, the hiring is nowhere near where it was before the recession, with the jobs recovery expected to take at least several more years. The recessions saw the elimination of nearly 6.9 million jobs, of which only 3.1 so far have been recovered. Still, the unemployment rate for college grads is down for the first time since 2008. January through April of this year sees 7.2% of college graduates still out of work. A higher-than-historical number that's still better than 8.1% in 2010 and 9.1% in 2011.

Some success could be attributed to students, seeing the tough reality facing them upon graduation, taking their job search in hand much earlier. And for some, like Lesley Gustafson, a Wake Forest senior, as that means as early as their freshman year.

She met with a career counselor to discuss her goals. Gustafson picked a double-major — computer science and political science — that made her more marketable. And she found internships every summer that helped her build skills and a network of professionals to offer advice. Gustafson was aggressive in other ways, too: she took part in mock interviews offered by the campus career center so that she'd be better prepared for real employer interviews.

Gustafson's work paid off. In March, she was offered a job with consulting firm Accenture.

"I knew I would find something," Gustafson says. "I was more nervous finding something that I would be interested in rather than having to take a job just to take one."

05 20, 2012
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