Two weeks ago Nikki Ooty, 23, was celebrating her graduation from Texas Southern University in Houston. Yesterday she was trying to meet many of the 87 job recruiters gathered in the great hall of the U.S. Department of Labor.

"I have set up one interview with National Captioning Institute, but I still got a lot to do," said the public administration graduate dressed in a white and pale blue striped dress and a white jacket, as she rushed off to talk to another recruiter in the noisy hall.

Ooty was among more than 500 black college graduates who attended the first annual job fair organized by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to introduce recent black college graduates to prospective employers from government and private industry.

"The hardest thing for a young person looking for a job is not knowing where to begin," said Secretary of Labor William Brock as he opened the event. "This fair will give a broad choice for employers and employes."

Arthur A. Fletcher, the fair chairman, noted that recent studies had found that black college graduates are being underused because of discrimination, and said, "The UNCF job fair is an opportunity for the Washington business community to actively participate in demonstrating this community's commitment to young black men and women trained to enter the marketplace."

For several hours, the students visited recruiters, showing them resume's and hoping for invitations to job interviews. No actual hiring was done, fair organizers said.

"They [the graduates] came prepared with their resume's and were an aggressive, interesting lot," said Susan G. Reil, director of personnel for Security National Bank.

Employers at the fair ranged from American Airlines, Bradlees andMcDonald's to local newspapers, television stations and federal agencies.