College Grads Battle Tough Job Market

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated May 25, 2010 at 12:53 PM CDT

It's graduation season and a college degree is extremely important in today's job market.

But with the worst economic period since the Great Depression finding a job can be a huge challenge.

The message from grads is very clear--they need jobs.

"There are 1,158 people graduating...and all of us are going to be looking for jobs," said Jen Davis, a UMD undergrad.

Finding that job is proving to be a challenging task for many of today's grads.

"I don't have a job; I have some kind of leads. I'm going to go home move in with my parents," said Morgan Finley, a UMD undergrad.

UMD Career Services says it's important for students to remain optimistic.

"We tell students 'yes we realize it's a difficult job market, but stay upbeat, stay positive and keep looking,'" said Julie Westlund, UMD Career Services Director.

Westlund says the college offers a lot of tools to help students land their first gig.

"Most job openings aren't advertised, so we're teaching them the strategies for networking," she said.

Experts say things are looking up somewhat and the market has been showing optimistic signs recently.

"Still not very strong but it has improved from last year, so students graduating this year are in a better place than those that graduated last year," said Mary Gallet of UMD Career Services.

In fact, economic experts say a significant number of openings are expected to arise.

"There are a large number of anticipated vacancies in some very high-tech fields; for registered nurses and pharmacists, for IT professionals, for finance professionals," said Dan McElroy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

But even in these fields competition is fierce.

"I wouldn't say it's intimidating, but it's going to be difficult definitely,' said Ben Bloomquist, a UMD undergrad.

Michael Richards, a recent college grad, landed a job with the Minnesota Workforce Center. He's now helping people who are old enough to be his parents find work.

"Networking is a big thing," said Richards. "Right now roughly 85 to 90 percent of jobs are obtained by networking.

With the tough job market, college officials at both UMD and UWS say a growing number of students have chosen to go back to the books.

"When people can't find work, many times they choose to go back, hone their skills, increase their education...better their chance of getting a job," said Chris Markwood, UWS provost.

Students say a big key to finding work is to stay positive and keep looking.

"I'm just really confident that I have a really good set of tools to work with and be able to offer to hiring staff," said Davis.