DE PERE - Starting next weekend, area colleges will be sending another class of graduates into the real world.
After applying for about a dozen positions, St. Norbert College senior Alex Christiansen says he is closing in on a job just a few days before graduation.
"I was pleasantly surprised that it was this painless," said Christiansen.
Christiansen isn't alone.
"It's definitely improving," said Mandy Nycz, the career services director at St. Norbert College. "We're seeing more job postings than we were a year ago, in fact, in Northeast Wisconsin alone, within our office, we are seeing an increase of about 20% in full-time entry level positions over this same time a year ago."
Nycz says last year about 35% of her school's graduating students had jobs lined up by about this time. She says the national average was about 24%. She expects St. Norbert's percentage to increase this year.
"We saw about an 18% increase in the number of our seniors in the last month alone that are coming into our office versus a year ago, so they are being a lot more proactive in utilizing the resources they have," said Nycz.
National numbers show college graduates will also be paid more. According to a survey from the National Association of Colleges & Employers, the average starting salary for grads with a bachelor's degree is up 5.3% to just $44,928. The engineering field has the highest average starting salary at $62,535.
"The pay is going up and the positions are opening," said Jenny Overstreet of Robert Half International. "We have been seeing the positions come in significantly over the last few months and we are seeing a decrease in good qualified candidates come through."
Overstreet helps Appleton area companies find qualified employees. She says the difference for college graduates can be seen in unemployment rates. Nationally it's 7.6%, but for college graduates its 3.8%
"I've had a lot of companies that I'm dealing with locally, they want a recent grad," said Overstreet. "They get in and they can basically mold this candidate into the position."
The picture isn't always rosy, though.
"There's other kids that I said applied to 45 and have heard back from a bunch of them, but haven't gotten anything," said Christiansen.
While Christiansen admits the hunt is tedious, the finish does have one lasting reward.
"I'm looking forward to receiving a paycheck instead of sending mine to school," said Christiansen.
UW-Oshkosh's graduation is Saturday. St. Norbert's graduation is Sunday. UW-Green Bay's commencement ceremony is the following Saturday. Lawrence University has graduation on Sunday June 9th.
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