Glimmers of hope for job-seeking college grads

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Jeff Mitch will graduate from Duquesne University next month with a degree in accounting.

But one of the best lessons he learned was from his older brother.

Mr. Mitch said he saw how his brother, who studied finance at Robert Morris, couldn't find a full-time job for eight or nine months after he graduated in 2010.

"I think my biggest takeaway from witnessing that experience, was just, 'always being on the ball,' " he said. "Always being proactive about the job search, because the thing you really can't do is walk across that stage and think that a job is going to land in your lap."

That lesson paid off. In July, Mr. Mitch will start a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Pittsburgh office.

The post-graduation outlook isn't so positive for many of his classmates.

"I would say a good portion of them probably have something lined up, but I do know a fair amount of students that are still looking," Mr. Mitch said.

If recent trends are any indication, some of his classmates -- and members of the class of 2012 throughout the country-- might be looking for a while.

Half of young college graduates -- about 1.5 million people under age 25 with bachelor's degrees -- are jobless or underemployed, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press.

But there are glimmers of improvement.

A study released in March by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said that employers expect to hire 10.2 percent more new college graduates from the class of 2012 than from the class of 2011.

Nicole Feldhues, director of career services at Duquesne, said she has seen a 32 percent increase in employer participation at the school's spring job fair.

The University of Pittsburgh and Point Park University reported seeing similar upticks in job fairs and postings and on-campus recruiting. Yet it remains a competitive market and employers are still cautious, said Cheryl Finlay, director of Pitt's Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance.

Amy Bittner, a career counselor at Point Park University, tells students that finding a job isn't as simple as sending in resumes. Networking, internships and job shadowing throughout college, not just during senior year, are important.

Mr. Mitch said he had three job offers, but it took five internships, 20 to 30 job applications and an open mind about what kind of work he wanted to do.

"It's definitely still challenging," he said.

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Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.


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