MADISON, Wis. - Commencement calls for celebration, but it can have young adults asking what's next?
According to a recent report released in April by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, hiring of college graduates is expected to go up. Employers surveyed said they expect to increase their hiring of college graduates by 8.6 percent this spring, compared to the class of 2013.
The survey showed more than half of employers were interested in areas like accounting, engineering and computer sciences.
For four years Jake Blatnik, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has kept his eyes on the ultimate prize: a job.
"My whole career process and planning and activity began my freshman year," Blatnik said.
The 22-year-old, majoring in finance and management and entrepreneurship, said he learned very quickly that you need to have experiences that you can talk about, a story about yourself. Blatnik joined student organizations and took on multiple internships.
He credited his upbringing in Waterford for his drive, but said behind his focus in getting a job was the recession.
"Because of the fluctuations in the economy nothing was going to be a guarantee anymore," Blatnik said. He found his match in Procter and Gamble, first in an internship then a full-time job before his senior year started.
Steve Schroeder, assistant dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, said students have tried to do everything they can to differentiate themselves from other students. He said as the economy recovers employers want students who challenged themselves during their college years, but employers also have to stay competitive.
"Over the next couple of years it's really going to be a student market and there are going to be more opportunities than we have college graduates to fill those opportunities," Schroeder said.
Graduates who did not study in fields other than accounting, business or computer sciences are not discouraged about their job prospects.
"When I came in my freshman year animal science was actually on the top 10 list of most useless majors and, you know, I wasn't frightened by that," said Zoey Brooks, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Brooks grew up on a 159-year-old dairy and grain farm in Waupaca. Similar to Blatnik, she completed several internships and joined student organizations.
She doesn't quite have a job lined up after graduation, and she won't be at the ceremony. Instead, she will be competing in the Alice in Dairyland finals.
"If that's not the case then I will actually be returning to my family farm to production agriculture to partner in the business with my family," Brooks said.
Either way, Brooks said it comes down to one thing.
"I went with my gut instinct and haven't looked back or regretted it so far. I think the old adage is if you do what you love then you'll never work a day in your life," Brooks said.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2 percent of college graduates will earn minimum wage. However, job experts still say a college degree is necessary to yield a positive return on the investment over the course of a working life.
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