Recent college grads face tough job market - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Recent college grads face tough job market: 1 in 2 is un- or under-employed

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

A report out this week suggests some discouraging news for recent college graduates.

According to a study of the 2011 Current Population Survey data for the Associated Press, half of all young college grads -- meaning adults age 25 and younger -- are currently either unemployed, or underemployed. Compared with the employment trends in 2000, economists say this the worst job market in more than a decade for those graduating with a bachelors degree.

With this in mind, Melanie Steele was at University of Northern Iowa for transfer orientation. She said, she's looking forward to starting school this fall.

"I'm nervous, but I'm excited. It'll be fun. But... I'm nervous!" she admitted.

Steele is transferring from North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City to Cedar Falls to finish her four-year degree in child psychology.

"I know I have to build my resume. I really want to start looking at internships," she said.

It appears internships may not be enough to secure a job once Steele graduates. Take Erin Wagner -- the 23-year-old followed all of the guidelines for success after college. But after graduating last fall with a double major, she's still hunting for her first job.

"I knew that it was going to be a little bit difficult. But it's becoming more and more apparent how there's not necessarily a lot of jobs open," Wagner said.

While she's waiting for a lead, Wagner is also waiting.... on tables. She's worked at a Cedar Falls restaurant for nearly three years, and enjoys her co-workers and managers. But she is ready to move on.

"Obviously this is not where I want to end up. I do work a lot, during various sports seasons we make really good money here, and so you know, working a lot of shifts it does help to pay the bills," she said.

Whether she realizes it or not, Wagner is in good company. According to the report, recent college grads are more likely to be working in a restaurant or bar than in engineering or computer science fields.

The report suggests graduates in nursing, teaching, and computer science are the most likely to land a job straight out of college. Those studying anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities are among the least likely to find a job in their field.

Steele, of course, is keeping her fingers crossed that, when she graduates, she'll be able to find her dream job.

"I'm hoping I can, but realistically I assume I'll have to settle for a part-time job and look for another job that's actually relevant to my major," she said.

Clearly, Steele has no misconceptions about the challenges of finding a job when she graduates. But she still believes her time at UNI will be worthwhile.

"I think it really is. Cause you need to get a degree now. Even a masters degree sometimes isn't cutting it," said Steele.

Wagner agrees, saying her degree was worth the time and money. Even though it's easy to get down about her prospects, Wagner is confident the right career is right around the corner.

"I am hopeful. I definitely am. I think you gotta stay hopeful. Just stay positive and keep looking... keep trying," she added.

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