ABC7 On Your Side: Degree of uncertainty

May 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) Recruiting is down on some college campuses and more grads are taking refuge in grad school. But for graduates looking for work, there are jobs and options if you're willing to expand your focus and reach out for help.

This spring college graduates enter the real world just as the real world settles into a recession.

Erica Schulte will graduate from Loyola University this week with a degree in public relations and advertising but no job.

"It's kind of a mixed emotion of apprehension and jealousy. What's going to happen to me now that I have this accomplishment and a little bit of jealousy of others who actually have jobs," said Erica Schulte, Loyola senior.

Alex Presha is a journalism major at Northwestern University. In June, he'll likely join an increasingly large pool of unemployed journalists.

"It's been pretty nerve racking. You get that call from your mom or family. They want to know where you're going to be. Your friends want to know where you're going to be," said Alex Presha, Northwestern senior.

Job fairs attract college students now competing with recent graduates and experienced workers with Illinois' unemployment rate at 9.1 percent.

"It's going to be tough for anyone to get their dream job this year so be practical better to work than stay out of work take a job and keep looking," said John Challenger, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Outplacement experts suggest college graduates:

  • Take any job for now - don't take the summer off - that shows your eagerness to work
  • Pack your resume with experience - paid or unpaid - volunteer work shows the candidate's range
  • Connect with alumni in your field of choice
  • "You want that person to advocate for you . Can you tell me about this hidden job market? Are there opportunities that won't be on the company's Web site?" said Wesley Thorne, Northwestern University assistant director of career services.

    Okechukwu Chika is an engineering student at Northwestern. He's among the lucky ones graduating with a job. He says it wasn't luck. It was work. He began participating in the National Society of Black Engineers as a junior, made a contact at ComEd and an internship evolved into an offer.

    "If you want a job you have to go for it. It's not going to fall in your lap. You have to reach for it," said Okechukwu Chika, NU senior.

    Heidi Vallez took a job at Chipotle while she went to the Illinois School of Health Sciences. Now a registered medical assistant, she remains there.

    "I was hoping that once i came out of school I'd be working with patients trying to do my best but no, not at all," said Heidi Vallez, Illinois School of Health Careers graduate.

    While she's looking for a job as a medical assistant, her time isn't wasted. She's training to be a Chipotle manager.

    "It's just incredible to see that you could fall into the deep end and really and come out really successful," said Bobby Wenger, Chipotle general manager.

    "For now, just putting myself up there to be a manager," said Vallez.

    "That might be invaluable for your next job and you never know, you might spend your whole career in restaurants and hospitality," said Challenger.

    John Challenger points to the CEO of Potbelly who was an English literature & business major but started working in a fast food. From there his career path changed.

    Challenger also suggests post graduate internships, possibly unpaid, or volunteer work that could be related to your field of choice.

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