WINSTON-SALEM -- With April unemployment in the U.S. at 9 percent, it is a difficult time for many new college graduates to find a job.
A career development expert at Wake Forest University said, no question, 2011 was a challenging year and he didn't expect the outlook for grads to change anytime soon. But many students had taken steps to improve their odds of success in the struggling job market.
"I already have a job lined up,” said Josh DeWitt, a graduate. “I'll be working with PepsiCo with Frito Lay in Plano, Texas as a marketing analyst for them."
DeWitt is one of the fortunate ones. He signed an offer from PepsiCo last November, which took away a lot of the pressure college seniors often face trying to get their first job out of school.
"For those students who didn't find them earlier, that second semester's a little bit more stressful while they continue to search for jobs in fields that didn't quite have the opportunities available at the beginning of the year," he said.
Sophia Farrara landed a job with an industrial supply company, but just a month and a half ago.
"I was very concerned, very anxious, just hearing everybody who came out of school last year and the year before having a hard time finding a job if they didn't come out of school with one already," Farrara said.
The university's top jobs advisor said the job market was a bit better than in 2010, but what was working in many students' favor at Wake Forest was the preparation they had done since coming to the university.
“They've been working hard by coming to our career office,” said Andy Chan, vice president for career development. “They've got their resumes in order, practicing interviews."
Many seniors had done internships and job shadowing, which Chan said seemed to make the biggest difference in a student's quest for that first job.
"All of these different experiences put you in position to be able to get a great job coming out of school,” he said. “So, it's less about what you majored in than it is what you did to complement what you majored in to be able to make you very marketable."
Chan said last year 86 percent of Wake Forest University seniors either had found a job or been accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation.