From Engineering Major To Cater Waiter: Grads Enter The Job Market

05/20/2010 08:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

More than 1.6 million bachelor degree-toting young adults will enter the job market this year, and they'll face the highest youth unemployment rate -- 19.6 percent -- since the Labor Department started compiling the data in 1948.

As BusinessWeek reports, the horizon for grads is not looking bright.

Matt Grant, a 2009 graduate of Ohio State University, majored in chemical engineering and completed three internships. After nearly a year-long job search, he found a position -- as a waiter at a Clarion Inn.

The effects of the shrunken employment market are being felt nationwide.

The magazine reports that 33 percent of Harvard's class of 2009 had jobs upon commencement, an 18 percent decrease from the year before.

As a result more and more students, experts say, are having to take jobs they didn't plan for.

On-campus recruiting at schools of business declined 65 percent during the fall job-interview season, according to the MBA Career Services Council in Tampa, Florida. Peter Giulioni, assistant dean and executive director of MBA Career Services at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, said he is encouraging this year's graduates to be more flexible in the jobs they seek.

"Whereas in the past maybe 10 percent of my students had to go with their Plan B, about 30 percent are now," he said.

The long-term repercussions of the market are bleak as well:

Students who graduated in the early 1980s -- when two recessions drove unemployment to a peak of 10.8 percent -- suffered wage losses of more than $100,000 in the next 15 years compared with those who came into the job market during the decade's boom years, according to [Yale assistant economics professor Lisa] Kahn's research.

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