Three weeks ago, University of Maryland, Baltimore County student Justin Hare was feeling anxious.
The senior mechanical engineering major was still without a job, he said, despite spending the last six months sending out applications and interviewing with four different companies. After five years of schooling and a bachelor’s degree, Hare wasn’t sure what his next move would be.
But then he got the call. And then another. And another.
Hare went from zero offers to three, and has accepted a job with an engineering firm in Washington, D.C., where he’ll start work on June 6.
Hare is a lucky one. With the nationwide unemployment rate still stubbornly high at 9 percent, the job prospects for college graduates are not stellar, according to a study released this week by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
An analysis of the study by The New York Times showed that, as of this spring, only 56 percent of 2010 graduates have held at least one job since receiving their degree. In 2006 and 2007, that rate was 90 percent, the story said.
The Baltimore Sun recently reported on a study by CareerBuilder that showed 46 percent of companies planned to hire new college graduates this year, up from 44 percent in 2010. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said employers plan to hire 19 percent more new graduates than last year. But the market is still tough, according to students finishing up their schooling.
“I was fortunate to get a job coming out of school,” said Hare, of Manchester, MD, adding he knows many of his classmates are still sans-employment with graduation just days away at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
“I feel like some of them are being a little picky,” he said. “They have too-high expectations.”
Hare got a position in his desired field by holding multiple internships while an undergraduate and by getting on the job hunt early, he said. But not all students who have secured employment are working at jobs that reflect their degree.
Maria Mackall, 21, of Baltimore, whose new degree is from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, will work full-time in the accounting department of a motor repair company starting immediately. She leaves college with a bachelor’s in social work.
Mackall said she expects to take a licensure test this summer and will hopefully have a job in social work by the fall. When the time comes, she’s not worrying about finding a position.
“Social work jobs are out there all over,” Mackall said. “There’s a lot of jobs in social work in Carroll County.”
Other students, who still have several years of school remaining, are already thinking about their eventual job hunt.
Jamie Ellingsworth, 19, is graduating from Howard Community College with her associate’s degree. She said she plans to transfer to Towson University, where she’ll major in electronics, media and film.
When she graduates with her bachelor’s, hopefully in two more years, she said, she will look for a job editing video at a production company.
Though Ellingsworth said she has “a little bit” of anxiety, she feels she’s taking all the steps necessary to put herself in position to find a job in 2013.
“It seems difficult because the job market kind of sucks right now,” said Ellingsworth, who carries a 3.7 grade point average at Howard. “But I’m getting a lot of experience.”
Others are still trying to figure out what the future holds.
Matt DeFonzo, 22, from Summit, NJ, is graduating from McDaniel on Saturday. Feeling he needed more practical education in sports broadcasting after earning an undergraduate degree in communications, DeFonzo plans to attend Boston University in the fall, where he’ll try for a master’s in sports broadcasting.
“I really didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do (here),” DeFonzo said. “Communications is a good major, but it was more theory-based.”
DeFonzo said he hopes to one day be a sports radio host, but admits he’s still unsure of how difficult it will be to land a job in that field.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” DeFonzo said. “Here’s where I want to get to. I’ll figure out how to get there (in graduate school).”
Back at UMBC, Hare knows exactly where he wants to go after walking across the stage Monday: fishing.
“I’ve got some fishing trips before I start,” he said. “I feel lucky to even get a job.”