Will I Ever Get A Job?: A Senior’s Search for Light At the End of the Tunnel

I am 22 years old. I have been in school for the past 17 years. The end is near. Graduation, here I come!

Yet, I cannot help but be somewhat jaded and downright scared about entering this job market.

Earlier this month, the Labor Department released its latest numbers on employment, or lack thereof, in the nation. Last month, employers cut 80,000 jobs, bringing the net loss of jobs in 2008 to nearly 232,000 jobs. Talk about shock and awe. Well, for me it was more like shock and awful. Welcome to the real world.

But, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is still holding a bright torch for the Class of 2008. Its latest salary survey says starting salary offers for recent grads are on the rise.

“In fact, the overall change from the average salary offer to all graduates in this report is an increase of 5.3 percent compared to the overall average to all grads in the Spring 2007 report,” Edwin Koc, NACE director of strategic and foundation research stated in the spring 2008 NACE Salary Survey. “However in the areas where employers may have diminishing offers, average salary offers are beginning to diminish as well.”

The report breaks down salary increases across academic majors from accounting to computer science to liberal arts. Some of the highlights: Marketing information systems (MIS) graduates saw an 8.2 percent increase in their starting salary, with 71 percent of those offers were over $50,000. Computer science majors with specialization in software design and development positions had salaries maxing out at over $60,000.Liberal arts majors, seemed to have barely made the cut for the report, with a couple of ambiguous sentences about their gains. Salaries increased 12.9 percent to $35,378; however, “individual majors still remain limited.”

So, as a journalism major, I approach this “positive outlook” with much hesitation. I do not expect to enter the job market with a large disposable income. I have accepted journalism as a “labor of love.” They called it the penny press for a reason.

Before the big economic slump, employers guesstimated they would increase hiring by 16 percent. But in its Job Outlook 2008 Spring Update report, NACE slashed that number in half.

Okay, so that looks all well and great for those lucky prospective graduates with a job offer, but what about those hungry job seekers still submitting resumes and cover letters?

“In general, the hiring outlook remains positive, and many seniors have already received job offers,” Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, stated in a press release. “New college graduates just entering the job market will likely find fewer opportunities than originally anticipated.”

So basically, I missed the boat on employers actively offering job offers in the first semester of my senior year, when I was parlaying my last year of college, still thinking I had time because I couldn’t start a job until after May 10.

Now that I am on the job search grind, accounting, computer science and MIS majors are busy waiving their job offers and $50K salary in my face. Let alone they have been sitting on them since November. It’s a travesty.

On MTV’s new reality show, “The Paper,” the editor in chief recently touted, “Journalists are the most important part of the world. They really are.” To any journalist, I am sure this mantra speaks volumes. Yet, our pockets don’t show it.

So as I enter this last week of undergraduate class work, I am anxious plus excited minus a job offer. A graduate school acceptance letter is looking mighty great right now. But, I’m pressing on.

I have an interview this week, so hope is still alive.