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Job outlook is fairly bright for college graduates

FARGO -- Don't worry, college graduates.

It's not all doom and gloom out there.

Despite the recent economic downturn, the job outlook is fairly bright.

Employers plan to hire 8 percent more graduates than they did a year ago, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

"It's not quite as good as we thought it would be originally, but it's still a decent market," said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager with NACE.

For grads wanting to stick around the Midwest, the outlook is a little better. Employers in the region told NACE they expect to hire 12 percent more grads than they did a year ago.

North Dakota State University's spring job fair had a record 180 employers looking for new talent.

The job fair for Minnesota state universities also had a strong showing with more than 160 employers.

"I think there's more opportunity out there than people may think," said Cliff Schuette, director of Career Services at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

It's too early for campus career centers to have statistics on how many graduates have found work in their fields.

But students who have visited the centers are reporting positive results.

Jay Thoreson, director of the Concordia Career Center, said he's been pleased by the number of students who have had several job interviews.

Another good sign is that many businesses are hiring interns for the summer, said Jill Wilkey, director of NDSU's Career Center.

For graduates of Minnesota State Community and Technical College, the technical and medical fields will have especially strong placement rates, said Rhonda Bahls, an administrative assistant.

Even though companies may be cutting back in light of the economy, they still need to hire new talent, Koncz said.

"Especially now with all the baby boomers retiring, there are still openings that they need to fill with new college graduates," she said.

Concordia senior Casi Stedman started her job search last fall and lined up a job in November. The communications and Spanish double-major plans to work for Target as an executive team leader.

Andy Moriarity, a construction management major at NDSU, had multiple job offers. He will work with Wanzek Construction as a project engineer building wind farms.

Other students wait until after graduation to begin the job search.

"Some of them simply, I think, just kind of run out of energy to be going to their part-time work and going to class," Schuette said. "Then looking for a job becomes the last thing."

Aaron Biffert, who will graduate next week from NDSU with a civil engineering degree, plans to finish the semester before looking for jobs in Seattle and the Twin Cities.

"This last semester has been pretty crazy, so my focus has been on graduating rather than getting a job," Biffert said.

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