New graduates released into rough economy

June 11, 2011 6:46:54 PM PDT
A commencement ceremony at California State University East Bay's School of Business Administration is one of four that will unleash 5,000 new graduates into the rough waters of today's economy.

Today, there was nothing but smiles for new college graduate Jinger Sison with dollar bill ornaments draped over her gown.

For now, she's making money as a receptionist, but she's eager to put her speech pathology degree to good use. When asked if she had found a job that complemented the degree she received on Saturday, she answered, "not yet."

"It's tough, but I'm hoping I'll get somewhere," said Sison.

Sison has a lot of company among the fellow graduates of CSU East Bay who are marching into one of the worst job markets in years.

Nationally, 90 percent of students who graduated in 2006 and 2007 had found a job by this spring, according to a survey issued by Rutgers University. However, among graduates last year, only 56 percent had found work.

Jamie Marte, who received her degree in criminal justice, is trying to make sure she's on the positive side of those statistics.

"I was actually on Craigslist yesterday," Marte said of her job search. "Slim pickings right now, but I'm optimistic about it."

Wages aren't what they used to be. In 2009 and 2010, the median salary for grads was $27,000 a year, down from $30,000 between 2006 and 2008.

The issues facing college graduates became the topic of President Obama's weekly address on Saturday. Obama called for a partnership between the government and the private sector to prepare people for the work force.

"I wish I could tell you there was a quick fix for our economic problems," Obama said, "but the truth is we didn't get into this mess overnight and we won't get out of it overnight."

The tough times facing today's graduates present a double-edged sword according to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Kim Polese, who gave today's commencement address.

"This year is, maybe, a little more difficult, but at the same time, there are new companies being formed every day," Polese said. "I know that, in my case, I am always looking for smart people."

Students who receive degrees in engineering, computer technology and public relations statistically find their first job easier than students who receive other degrees.


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