Graduates Hoping to Start Careers in Bleak Job Market

By: Kristin Martin
By: Kristin Martin

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- WKU's 175th commencement is this weekend, and it's also the largest spring undergraduate class ever.

More than 1,500 students are graduating and hoping to start their careers.

"We've probably seen several hundred students walk through the doors in the past week or two, and of course, they're feeling the pressure of graduation kind of bearing down on them," said Robert Unsele, the associate director for data management for Career Services at WKU.

A survey shows the job market remains bleak.

Only 11 percent of students graduating nationwide have a job secured -- compared to 16 percent did last year.

"But I do think there are still promising times ahead. Unemployment's falling. A lot of opportunities are beginning to open back up. It may require our students to spread out a little bit. Bowling Green is growing, but it may not be able to keep pace with the amount of new qualified professionals coming into the job market," Unsele said.

Almost half of recent graduates are working jobs unrelated to their degrees.

"If something comes up and it's not in my field and I actually end up liking it, I'll do whatever. I'm open for whatever, but I would preferably like to have something in my field," said Andrew Hairlson.

Others say going back to college is the answer.

"A lot of the jobs I was looking for require it. A lot of the things I interviewed for in undergrad -- they wanted a master's degree. So it's definitely something that you need to do," said Lynn Reins.

The survey says about half of last year's grads have full-time jobs -- down nearly 20 percent from 2012.

That's leaving WKU students hoping for the best.

"We've talked about it, and it is harder to find a job when you're younger and fresh out of college, but, like I said, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Unsele says it takes about four months to land that first professional job.

The ceremonies for the undergrad class are Saturday at 9:30, 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. at Diddle Arena.

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