More than 1,300 undergraduate students will receive their degrees from Richard Stockton College on Saturday, sharing one last event as the Class of 2013.
On Monday, their lives will go in many different directions, not all of them leading immediately to their dream jobs.
Megan Errera, 22, of Hammonton, a speech therapy major, and Marissa Regad, 22, of Howell Township, Monmouth County, a marine biology major, will work summer jobs before going on to graduate school.
Hassan Elkafas, 25, of Ventnor, got a job at Revel as a beverage runner but hopes his business management degree will help him move up to a supervisory position.
Alan Rhoads, 23, of Northfield, has been substitute teaching and coaching at the Sovereign Avenue School in Atlantic City. He’ll have to return to college to get full teacher certification, but he said his experience at Sovereign convinced him he wants to teach.
“I love this school,” he said, noting the district has some job openings.
Criminal justice major Chris Hayman, of Pittsgrove Township in Salem County, will keep his summer job at a horse farm while hoping one of the several applications he submitted in his field will lead to a job. He also plans to get his security certification so he can apply to work in the casinos.
“There are jobs out there,” Hayman said. “But there a lot of people applying for them.”
The recession has not been kind to young adults. But those with college degrees are faring somewhat better.
A report in April by the Economic Policy Institute found the unemployment rate for young college graduates is just under 9 percent, better than the 16 percent unemployment rate for all workers under age 25.
But it also notes that about 18 percent of young college graduates are underemployed in jobs that do not require a college degree.
The report, titled “The Class of 2013: Young graduates still face dim job prospects,” cites the long recovery from the recession, and the fact that recent graduates have less experience and are more likely to be let go if business slows, as factors working against new workers.
On the brighter side, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found average starting salaries jumped 5 percent in April from the year before, to an average of almost $45,000.
New Jersey graduates face some special challenges. The state unemployment rate remains higher than the national average. An April report by Rutgers economist Nancy H. Mantell said New Jersey’s recovery has lagged the nation in replacing only 43 percent of 250,000 lost jobs. Retail and service sectors accounted for 80 percent of the net new jobs since January 2011.
Statewide, 9 percent of New Jerseyans were unemployed in March, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The rate was more than 13 percent in Atlantic, Cape and Cumberland counties and 10 percent in Ocean County.
Still, Stockton graduates were hopeful as they congratulated each other at the annual senior toast May 2 at the college and talked about their plans.
Errera will need two more years of college to get her master’s degree in speech therapy, after which she hopes to get a job at a special services school. She got scholarships for her undergraduate degree and will work as a graduate assistant at Stockton, though she expects she may still have to borrow some money for graduate school. She’ll spend the summer working at the Marriott Vacation Club and a winery.
“I looked at other colleges, but staying here was the most affordable,” she said.
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