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Graduates face slowly improving job market

Katherine Owen

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With constant reminders of a struggling unemployment rate, but also constant talks of a brightening job market, the future for recent college graduates is uncertain.

Travis Railsback, executive director for the University of Alabama’s Career Center, called the job market that new and soon-to-be grads are facing a “slowly improving” one.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies are expecting to hire 10 percent more new college graduates than they did last year.

Railsback said there are also “positive signs” on UA’s campus, of the increasing job opportunities. He said they have had “record numbers” of companies coming out to spring career fairs, along with an increase in employers coming to campus and recruiting college students.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute in May has less good news to offer, though. The report noted the unemployment rate among college graduates younger than 25 still averages 9.4 percent, and another 19.1 percent of college graduates are in jobs they for which they are overqualified.

This information follows the recently released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistic stating the nationwide unemployment rate, as of May 2012, is 8.2 percent.

Railsback said the college degree is “definitely still worth the time and money,” though. He also said the unemployment rate for those with only a high school diploma is almost twice that of those with a college degree.

The BLS additionally states that, as of May 2012, for those 25 and older, the unemployment rate for a high school graduate with no college is at 8.1 percent, but for those holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, it is only 3.9 percent.

Students like Jenna Reynolds maintain a positive outlook on her future after graduation.

“I feel very hopeful about the job market,” Reynolds, a sophomore studying philosophy and Spanish, said.

Reynolds added she has already spoken with recruiters who also seemed positive about the future for college grads.

Austin Lafferty, a senior majoring in philosophy and international relations who hopes to go into international public interest or human rights law, has a positive outlook on the job market, as well.

“I feel like if you’ve genuinely been applying yourself, you should be fine,” Lafferty said. “Sometimes, actually putting in more than the minimum effort is what you need to stand out.”

Railsback agreed it is important to stand out to employers.

“Be active both inside and outside the classroom,” Railsback said. “Employers are looking for candidates that demonstrate the ability to communicate and lead.”

Railsback also pointed out that “it’s never too early to start.” He said students need to start thinking about what they want to do as soon as they get here and to get involved, actively exploring that particular field.

While at UA, Railsback recommended taking advantage of the career services the campus offers and exploring things the student is curious or passionate about. He said taking advantage of the opportunities to learn networking skills, interview skills and resume writing is “crucial.”

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Graduates face slowly improving job market