New College Graduates Find Soft Job Market

A college degree doesn't always guarantee a job after graduation.

avid Walker, a senior finance major at Michigan State University, thought his two internships with impressive Wall Street firms would make landing a first job a breeze. Instead, Walker has been rudely awakened.

"I started my job search earlier than most; I started during the summer before my senior year," Walker explains. "I knew it would be competitive getting jobs in my field."

He's finally nailed down a position, but it won't be the dream job he imagined in New York City. Instead, he'll be settling into a less-desirable position in a small Ohio town.

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Because they started college in 2008 and 2009-the peak of the recession-the classes of 2012 and 2013 face better job prospects. But the market remains tough.

In October, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported the unemployment rate for new college graduates continues to drop, down significantly from 2011. This past September, the unemployment rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 fell to 6.3 percent from 8.3 percent in September 2011.

However, according to an April Associated Press report, nearly half of new college graduates remain unemployed or underemployed, leaving them in jobs that require a high school diploma or even less education.

Nannette McCleary Shaw, a career services counselor at Wayne State University, says preparation makes a big difference for graduating seniors.

"People think, 'I did well in school, I worked and I'm still having a difficult time finding a job,'" she says. "Career planning is what a student does between school and work. It's how you make your work and school related to what you want to do in the future, and that's basically where people lack."

Because he prepared with internships, joined multiple organizations and maintained a high grade-point average, Walker is disappointed about his current situation.

"It's definitely depressing," Walker says. "Especially thinking about how hard I worked just so I wouldn't have this problem."

Charles Ellis, a December Wayne State graduate, also has decided to compromise location to find a job that continues to elude him. Initially, the journalism major was only willing to consider jobs in New York City. Now, he's willing to go anywhere to get a job in his field.

"Location is not as important as it used to be," Ellis concedes. "As I've gotten older, I've realized that happiness doesn't depend on where you are so much as what you're doing. But a lot of time, what you're doing depends on where you are. It is important, but you have to evaluate what you want out of life."

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