Job Market For 2012 College Grads Lukewarm 

College seniors across the country are graduating and hoping to enter the workforce. Colleges themselves have become integral in helping their students find work. One in particular, guarantees their students jobs.According to the most recent statistics, the class of 2012’s unemployment rate is at 9.5%, and another 12% will be underemployed. Matt Rappaport is graduating from Colby College with a degree in economics with a minor in administrative science. Not unlike many college seniors, finding work after graduation proved to more difficult than they first thought. “At first I was a little bit discouraged,” Rappaport admits. “It was really more of a numbers game than anything, because there was a lot of good candidates for not so many jobs.”Matt is one of the lucky ones. He did find work. In February, he was hired by a financial consulting firm in Massachusetts. He credits much of his success in landing a job to the career center on campus. “This job, it was posted on Colby Connect, which is basically an online bulletin board for jobs,” he said. Colby, like most colleges and universities, offer career services that can be the key to getting students jobs after graduation. Roger Woolsey came on as Director of Colby’s Career Center in 2008, shortly before the economy tanked. “It was difficult, obviously, because the labor market took a dive, as well as part of the economy,” Woolsey said.Despite the rough economic waters back then, Woolsey says 50% of their seniors were employed when they graduated. Fast forward to 2012 and he says it’s a different job environment students are entering. The concept of lean management is now a reality. Employers expect more from their young workers than ever before. “The demand on them is much greater than it was just 4, 5, 6 years ago. So they’re hiring less, but expecting more.”Just a few miles away from Colby, at Thomas college, they’ll not only help you find a job, they guarantee it. “We guarantee that if students maintains a minimum 2.75 GPA, they complete an internship, and work with career services, that we’re going to guarantee that they’re going to be able to find a job in their field that they’re satisfied with,” said Thomas College Provost Dr. Thomas Edwards.If not? “If not, then we’re going to help pick up their payment on their guaranteed student loans, or we can invite them to come back to campus to pursue work toward a masters degree,” says Dr. Thomas.The “Guaranteed Job Placement Program” at Thomas is being hailed a success. Since its inception in 1999, according to information provided by the school, Thomas has only paid back on student loans twice, and just a handful of students have come back to retool with a different masters program.Thomas senior Dustin Leighton graduated Saturday and now heads to work in Massachusetts. “That was another deciding factor about coming here, because of the percentage of students that came out of here with guaranteed job placement, was a large percentage, it kind of enticed me to come here,” he said a few days before graduation.Regardless of the job climate, there are things students can do to help themselves:1. Have a good, consistent resume 2. Take advantage of internships”There are experts out there who are even stating that an internship today is the equivalent of an entry level job 7 years ago,” says Woolsey.Other experts say it’s the intangibles, in addition to the classroom work. “It’s not only their education inside the classroom, but it’s the leadership, it’s the service, the other pieces that are part of a college education,” says Dr. Edwards. “Can you communicate well? Can you understand data? Can you analyze and do critical thinking? Those things are also key to job placement.”Officials from both Thomas and Colby say they’re working harder to find their graduates jobs in Maine.At Thomas, 80% of their students come from Maine, and 85% stay in Maine after they graduate.At Colby, about 88% of their graduates are finding jobs outside Maine. Colby has started holding job fairs on campus for Maine businesses in an attempt to change that.