Class of 2012 job opportunities to increase 9.5 percent

When it comes to job opportunities, the class of 2012 could be better off than its 2011 counterpart.

According to U.S. News and World Report, employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said they plan to hire 9.5 percent more graduates from the class of 2012 than they did from the class of 2011.

The projected increase in hiring also brings positive news about salaries. The NACE Fall 2011 Salary Survey shows this year’s class of graduates will make, on average, about 6 percent more than last year’s graduates, from just more than $48,000 to just more than $51,000.

The survey also reported that engineering students from the class of 2012 will make $1,688 more than engineering students from the class of 2011.

“The economic recovery has been a drawn out and difficult one and employment has suffered in ways that are deeper and longer from a more typical recessionary cycle,” said Carl Martellino, executive director of the USC Career Center.

He also said there are signs of improvement, as demonstrated by the NACE survey.

“The recession of 2008 shows signs, small ones, but noted ones, on the hiring front,” he said. “The more jobs available, the better for everyone … This is particularly true for individuals with a college degree. Overall, the unemployment rate for individuals who hold a college degree is about half of the overall national average.”

This trend is especially evident at USC, where employers continue to hire through the on-campus recruiting program at the Career Center, he said.

“The recent fall Career Fair was a wonderfully positive bellwether, with over 170 organizations attending,” Martellino said. “In fact, this was one of the largest career fairs at USC and the largest since the economic downturn of 2008 … While conditions can always change, this is a very positive indication that things are improving for college graduates.”

According to Martellino, USC students can “stand out above others” by using the resources available on campus. He said employers want to see a strong academic background coupled with real world experiences, which students usually gain through internships.

Martellino also emphasized the importance of utilizing the Trojan Family when seeking employment.

“Attending workshops and presentations where employers and alumni are speaking is an important step in building your network,” Martellino said. “Your classmates are part of your network as are your faculty, family and friends.”

Evelyn Larios, a senior majoring in sociology and public policy, management and planning, said she thinks the increase in employment opportunities will affect students in a positive way.

“It will give them an incentive to graduate on time because I’ve noticed that seniors sometimes stay another semester to pick up another major because they [think] it’s better to have those when you go apply to the [job] market,” Larios said. “It will actually give more energy to the students and let them know that when you leave college, there’s likely to be a job out there for you.”

Josephine Chou, a senior majoring in psychology, on the other hand, is skeptical of the NACE survey results and what they mean for the class of 2012.

“The first question that comes to my mind is why they say that they’re going to hire more from the current graduating class,” she said. “I wonder if they mean they’re going to be hiring more during the next year, but I don’t know if that necessarily means that my class will get hired because we have less experience than the class before us.”

She said many of her peers are trying to keep other options open.

“A lot of people, including myself, are applying for grad school, but on the other hand, we’re also applying for jobs and seeing which offer comes,” she said. “Then we’ll try to make a decision.”

Larios, who said she is also considering graduate school, is not particularly worried about employment after graduation.

“Once you know what you really want to do and whether the work route really is the route for you or grad school or something else is the route for you, then you kind of become less worried about it,” Larios said.