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Students face job struggles post graduation

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Leah Troscianecki is one of the lucky ones. After searching for a few weeks, she found a full-time job. But some Ohio State seniors are not as lucky.
According to an Associated Press analysis of government data, one in two college graduates is either jobless or underemployed.
Troscianecki is a fourth-year in political science and set to graduate in June. She began her job search during Winter Quarter and found her position as a sales representative for a company in Arlington, Va., on FutureLink, a job careers search website OSU provides. But things weren’t always smooth-sailing for her.
“I was so worried I wouldn’t find a job,” Troscianecki said. “I just didn’t want to be part of that statistic of college graduates who aren’t employed after nine months.”
The job search continues for Zach Gallman, a fourth-year in history who spent five years in the U.S. Army before entering college.
“It’s tough to write a resume and be honest with yourself about your skills and attributes,” Gallman said. “Luckily, I had the help of some people who have been in HR and top managerial spots to help me with putting together my resume.”
With student loan debt hitting the $1-trillion mark last month, the looming question is whether students who do not find a job within six months after graduation will be able to make their student debt payments without defaulting.
But the numbers aren’t all gloomy. Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent for April from 8.8 percent in April 2011, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor Friday.
But on further analysis of the same data set, out of the 9 million unemployed Americans in April, 4.7 million said they had gone to college or graduated, while 4.3 million said they did not. This marks the first time in history the number of unemployed workers age 25 and up who have attended college exceeds the number of those who hold high school diplomas or less.
Experts say this shift reflects the vast number of Americans who are choosing to attend college, along with older Americans who were not as likely to pursue a college education exiting the work force.
On the other hand, the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that the class of 2012 is being offered more jobs with bigger paychecks. According to its data, the class of 2012 is being offered a median starting salary of $42,569, a 4.5 percent increase from last year.
According to a survey of 160 employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers and organizations are expecting to hire 10.2 percent more graduates this year than they did last year.
It appears there are two different tales being told. One with many jobless college graduates, the other with college graduates being offered bigger salaries and more jobs. OSU economics professor, Bruce Weinberg, said these findings might not be contrasting after all.
“I’m not sure that they contradict each other. The market went from good to bad and is now clawing its way back up,” Weinberg said. “This year promises to be better than last year, but we’re still down compared to before the recession.”
Benjamin Johnson, deputy director for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said the important thing to remember is that Ohio’s economy is improving.
“It’s happening slowly, but it’s happening,” Johnson said. “Ohio added jobs in 2011 and has added jobs in the first three months of 2012.”
Johnson said Ohio added 29,000 jobs in 2011 and has added 42,000 just in the span of the first three months of 2012. To put these numbers in perspective, there are a total of 5.1 million people working in Ohio for the month of April and still 400,000 without jobs in the state.
Weinberg said though job searching is tough, having a college degree will help OSU students in the long run.
“That’s really the picture of the labor market these days as a whole. The bad news for people graduating now is that they have to find a job, and finding a job in a weak recovery like the one we’re experiencing today is tough,” Weinberg said. “The good news for people graduating is that having that diploma is going to make things easier.”
Laura Brendon, a research associate for the OSU Center for the Study of Student Life, said the university measures job placement rates by inviting all graduating students to take a survey. The survey inquires about students’ immediate career plans and education continuation plans, and is administered three weeks before commencement.
For spring 2011, the overall response rate was 40.8 percent of all undergraduates. Out of those who responded, 54.5 percent said they were employed full-time after graduating. That means that out of a class of 9,699, 2,156 of them responded to the survey and said they had secured jobs upon graduating.
Troscianecki said though OSU offered her resources, she did her job searching on her own.
“I know that OSU has amazing resources in terms of career centers and advising,” she said. “But other than that, I really did this on my own. And I’m so proud of myself.”
Gallman said he has also done most of his searching on his own.
“I have pretty much done everything in terms of looking for work by myself,” he said. “However, I have not sought out any opportunities that OSU provides for job searching.”
Some of those opportunities include sitting down with a job adviser to search for employers in their target fields, said Brandy Williams, a career adviser for the College of Arts and Sciences Career Services.
Williams said when sitting down with a job adviser, students can also develop and refine their resume and cover letter, discuss their job searching strategies and look at relevant job searching websites.
“We have resources for networking and tips for interviewing. Students are encouraged to attend career events that are offered by the office including career fairs, employer information sessions and career workshops,” she said. “They can also schedule a mock interview.”
Johnson said one great resource for all job searchers is ohiomeansjobs.com, a website that combs the Internet and compiles job listings from all different types of websites. It is especially tailored to college students in that there are different ways and means to search for jobs, including a tab that only pulls entry-level positions.
“Whether the job is located at a small-town newspaper in the middle of nowhere or a huge city corporation, it will be listed,” Johnson said.
Gallman said though he is still looking for a job, he is confident he will find one soon.
“Become an investment, not an employee,” Gallman said. “You need to convince the company why you are better than everyone else, why they would be crazy not to hire you.”
Troscianecki said OSU graduates have a network of alumni that are willing to hire them.
“I’m not worried for OSU grads,” she said, “because if they work hard and keep an open mind, they will find jobs.”

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