Increase in nationwide hiring gives college students hope

It’s no secret that the economic downturn over the past few years has taken its toll on young adults looking for jobs out of college, but a new survey of businesses’ prospective hiring for 2012 suggests the times may be changing.

According the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2012 Spring Update, employers who responded to the survey reported that they plan to hire 10.2 percent more new college graduates in 2012 than they did in 2011.

Employers in the Midwest region hired 11,456 new college graduates in 2011 and are projected to hire 12,343 graduates in 2012 — a 7.7 percent increase. The survey results include 160 employers from across the country.

The new surveys are cause for optimism for some recent Marquette graduates who have been looking to begin a career.

“I had no idea it would be this hard to find a job,” said Eric Allen, a 2011 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences. Allen studied international affairs and economic relations.

Allen has been living in Milwaukee looking for a job for the last 11 months. He said he spends up to 30 hours a week job-hunting while working 40 hours a week at a restaurant to pay the bills.

Allen said the majority of his friends are still transitioning into their first jobs. He said thinking about the competition for those jobs can be daunting.

“Internship experience is common now,” he said. “You need to find the right internship opportunities.”

Allen said he interned at the World Trade Center of Wisconsin and abroad during his time at Marquette.

“It just wasn’t enough,” he said.

Recently, however, Allen said he has noticed an increase in hiring.

“I have had more interviews in the last three months than in the previous eight,” Allen said. “I really feel like something will happen in the next few months.”

David Clark, a professor of economics at Marquette, said the prospective hiring increase shows the economy’s move out of the recession and further into the recovery stage.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a private non-profit, non-partisan research organization, declared the United States out of the recession in 2009, but it was not until this year that national hiring saw an increase.

“It is common to see unemployment improve after the economy (recovers),” Clark said.

Clark said he would not be surprised if hiring of new gradates increased as projected.

“Firms have been cutting costs and becoming leaner (during the recession) and the workforce is spread thin. Firms now need new workers,” Clark said.

Kristin Adler, employer relations manager of Marquette’s Career Services Center, said the projected hiring increase is hopeful and heartening.

“It has not been motivating for students to search for jobs,” Adler said.

Adler said it could take six to nine months to find a job after college.

“You have to work for (a job),” Adler said. “Employers can be picky.”

She said one way to make yourself stand out is through internships and involvement on campus.

“I worry about the students who haven’t done anything but go to class,” Adler said.

Students should look for jobs in three ways, Adler said: job postings, targeting employers and networking.

“Eighty to 90 percent of your job search should be networking,” Adler said. She recommends using Marquette faculty and alumni as resources while searching for a job.

Marquette’s Career Services offers two one-credit courses through the College of Arts & Sciences to help students with career planning and decision making as well as job search strategies.

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