College graduates find tough job market

By Holly Brantley - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) – Thousands of Heartland college students will receive diplomas in the next couple of weeks, and they'll tell you it's a rough time to be looking for a job.  Even though new claims for unemployment benefits dipped for the fourth straight week.  This week, there are still hundreds of thousands out of work.

"It's really tough right now," said Kendal Deason. "There are lots of graduates. It's very competitive."

Kendal will graduate from Southeast Missouri State University Saturday with a degree in Recreation.  He doesn't have a job yet.

"Jobs are scarce," said Kendal.

Still he says he's on the right track.  In fact, he's working 40 hours a week.  He has a paid internship at Fitness Plus in Cape Girardeau.

"I feel blessed to have this internship building a resume here," said Kendal. "Right now, this may be where I want a future. I love the job."

As for Billie Kuehn, she'll graduate from the respiratory therapy program through the Career and Technology Center and Mineral Area College in a few weeks.

"I'm working two jobs in my field and going to school," said Billie. "It's stressful, but it's been worth it."

A lot of planning went into Billie's career choice.  She chose the health field because jobs are in demand.

That's something a lot of students are doing as they plan to navigate a tough economy.  They say where the jobs are impacts their chosen field now more than ever.

"In the program you're doing work.  It's a two year process but you show them you're willing to work and you're ready go get going.  That helps."

"The companies want to try on these students too," said Rich Payne of the Career and Technology Center.

He and other experts agree, students need to keep an open mind these days.  It's important to be able to fill multiple roles and consider an internship when jobs aren't available.

"The biggest thing applicants need is to have credentials and a better set of skills than the next applicant," said Payne.

At Southeast Missouri State University they advise students to seek out professional organizations in their field and network to job search.

At Southeast, they also start from day one with mandatory requirements for graduation that include career exploration.

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