New graduates ready to join workforce

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The economy is rebounding just as thousands are graduating from Arizona State University.

“It's hard to believe four years are gone already,” said Robert Mayer, who spent those four years preparing for this day. “It'd be a lot more nerve racking if I didn't have a job lined up.”

But the finance and international business major has a job and so do his friends in the W.P. Carey School of Business.

“You make your own destiny finding a job the more work you put into it the more you get out,” said Mayer, who equates preparing for an interview with studying for a final. “You do research on the company and its philosophy and culture and understand what they do and how you’d fit in as a new hire.”

Economist Dennis Hoffman with the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU says while the economy has improved, finding a job is never easy.

“Specialized disciplines in business, management and economics are in high demand, engineering degrees are in high demand, and specialized training in health care and health care research is in high demand.”

But no matter what your degree, people with a college education fare far better in the job market than those without.

According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate for college grads in April was 3.9 percent, and at its peak in November 2010 it was 5.1 percent.

“We are moving in the right direction and the people poised to benefit and have the competitive advantage are folks with knowledge and skills, not even so much in a particular discipline, over their lifetime,” said Hoffman.

That is reassuring for many students graduating without a job.

“I'm graduating with a theatre degree and I don't know what I'm doing,” said graduate Michael Waddle.

It's a mutual feeling among many graduates cloaked in the maroon cap and gown.

“Deep down I sit and think about it and I think what am I going to do,” said graduate Alexys Brandon.

Others have it all figured out.

“My plan is to start working full time and hopefully my studies will pay off,” said graduate Hope Shields.

Barry Broome with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council describes the local market as bouncing back, especially in certain sectors.

“Project engineers and construction management, that market is coming back," said Broome.

That is good news for Brett Berger, who majored in landscape architecture and isn't worried about finding work.

“There's a lot of potential for architects and landscape design students to get a job right out of college because people are bringing in a lot of projects right now," said Berger.

Still Broome says certain degrees are more employable than others.

“The overall job environment is really about highly skilled and highly trained people," said Broome.

Regardless of their discipline, ASU students are confident their degree will pay off.  It just might take longer for some than others.

“These other grads in less essential employment fields, they're going to work over time as the economy gets back to full employment, but those kids will have a tougher time finding jobs until 2014 and 2015,” said Broome.