MARIETTA - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people are going to college now than ever before, in part because of the advantages that a college degree confers.
But a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that businesses only plan to hire 2.1 percent more 2013 graduates than they did 2012 grads, citing among the reasons what businesses feel is a lack of preparedness.
In order to maximize the benefits of a degree and land a good job upon graduation, it pays to scope out the playing field and plan in advance, utilize the resources that one's college has available and network.
"On average, it can take any college student six months to find a job, so the key for graduates is to start looking long before graduation," said Nicole Crump, Washington State Community College assistant director of Admissions - Adult Learners and Career Services. "It is also helpful that a student has prepared for a career that is in demand."
Those with technical degrees are in high demand, according to the NACE. Petroleum engineers and computer engineers are among the highest paid because the demand is so great. Starting salary for a petroleum engineer is $93, 500.
In Ohio, the fastest growing career field is health care, with registered nurses, for example, expecting to add 21,020 jobs to the 118,680 already in existence over the next five years. Starting salary for an RN with an associate's degree is roughly $59,000, according to the Department of Job and Family Services.
"What I can tell you for sure is that our health services programs in particular have outstanding job placement locally," said Crump. "This is often a direct result of our students' contact with agencies, hospitals, etc., during their required clinical hours. Many of our programs at WSCC connect students with potential employers long before they graduate. Networking is helpful in obtaining a position, so we start the process early."
For recent Marietta College graduate Sarah Snow, when it came to making sure she had a job as soon as she graduated on May 12, networking, internships and experience outside of the classroom were just as important as the knowledge she gained in school.
"I have had a working resume since I was a sophomore but the internships I've had have really allowed me to expand that," said Snow, 22, who just began a new job recently.
With a major in international business and minors in finance, economics, leadership and political science, Snow, one of 340 graduates of the college, knew she would go into business and finance. Through the professional development program at Peoples Bank, Snow will learn all aspects of banking, from the teller on up. She said Peoples Bank puts stock in entry-level employees that they will stay on.
"I learned about the program through a job fair in Columbus and came back and worked with the Career Center (at Marietta College) to get in the program," Snow said.
Hilles Hughes, director of the Career Center, echoed the idea that internships and hands-on experience are vital and should be used in tandem with one another.
"I really think the hiring patterns have to do with the individual," Hughes said, adding that it isn't so much the field one chooses to go into but the effort one makes to secure a job in their chosen field.
While the banking industry has had some serious problems on the whole, smaller community banks such as Peoples are experiencing growth, according to Snow.
The road to her new job hasn't been easy, however.
"I started applying to places in August and out of 40, I think about five called me back," she said, adding that some fellow graduates still haven't fared well.
"I have a friend who majored in journalism actually and she hasn't gotten a bite anywhere," she said. "It's very disheartening."
Hughes agreed that trying to gain footing in the workforce requires patience and it helps to consider all options.
"Job searching is never easy," she said. "I do think close-mindedness closes doors. Have a plan but also have a plan B and a plan C."