Page 2 of 2   <      

College graduates are less choosy as they launch into their work lives

Her dream job: Being a professional millennial generation trend-spotter.

Her plan of action: Apply for at least 100 jobs.

Backup plan: Live at home, do freelance work.

Smith created accounts on several career Web sites. She set up an RSS feed for relevant job listings that popped up on Craigslist. Then, she applied to everything she could find.

"It's hard to get used to rejection. It isn't just your experience and résumé that they are rejecting -- it's you," she said. "If I apply to 100 jobs, then I will get used to that rejection."

She easily hit 100 applications by the Sunday in mid-May when she graduated. She moved home that Monday, and started job interviews Tuesday.

Before the end of the week, she had an offer to be an online marketing and community coordinator for HubPages, a compilation of blogs from across the country. She canceled her other interviews and signed a contract.

"I just wanted to find something," Smith said. "I had no intention of finding something so soon."

Haley, the 2010 Marymount graduate, landed a job with a political fundraising and financing firm in the District after applying "for anything and everything" and tapping all of her connections, including the parents of children she once babysat. She had worried about being stuck in her retail job.

At her graduation party, no one talked much about jobs and job searches. Of the six grads at the party, only three had definite plans.

"Yeah, we're happy, but we're not going to make a big deal out of it," she said. "I was one of the lucky ones."

Right now, Kristin Parris is one of the unlucky ones. Parris was one of 20 honors students to graduate from Howard University's business school, in the District. Typically, those top graduates receive six or seven job offers each during their first semester of senior year.

Such calls during the past two years have become much rarer, and the director of the honors program said some recruiters who once called her looking for students to hire are now calling to see whether she has heard of job opportunities for themselves.

This year, the offers didn't come until second semester. The most offers anyone had was three -- and Parris didn't get a single one.

"I never in a million years thought I would graduate and not have a job. I never, ever thought I would," said Parris, 22, who searched for months for a human resources position. "I was too narrow in my job search. I think if I had opened myself up a little more, I might have a job. Probably not my dream job, but a job."

Soon after graduation, she signed up for a two-week seminar that teaches the basics of media sales and began to learn the trade from scratch. She completed that program this month and hopes the connections she made will land her a job.

"I could do sales," she said. "I never thought that I would. But I could do it."

<       2

© 2010 The Washington Post Company