Prospects brighter for graduates

The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. New college graduates will find it slightly easier to turn their degrees into paychecks next spring, especially if they have an internship on their resume, a hiring survey released today shows.

The survey by Michigan State University projects a 4.7 percent increase in the number of new college graduates who can expect to get jobs, the third straight annual improvement.

''It remains a very competitive job market out there so the graduates by no means will find it easy hunting,'' said Patrick Scheetz, the survey author. ''It is a modest improvement.''

Scheetz, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at the school, also said the best job prospects are for engineers, computer scientists, business majors, health professionals and science majors.

Starting salaries offered to new college graduates will inch up only about half a percent compared to last year, he said.

Chemical engineers will draw the biggest pay $41,183 while journalists will be offered the lowest starting salaries $20,154.

Scheetz said despite the projected increase, hiring still will be below the levels of 1988-89. Prospects are brightest in the nation's southeastern and north-central regions.

''There has been so much downsizing and re-engineering going on that many of the opportunities that once existed have disappeared. . There are many jobs that have been lost in recent years and those probably will not return for many, many years,'' he said.

Federal agencies expecting tighter budgets are cutting staffing levels substantially while private employers are cautious about expanding too much, he said.

''The employers are all looking out of the corner of their eye at the economy,'' Scheetz said.

The survey of 527 businesses, industries and governmental agencies showed that chances of landing a job improved if the candidate had career-related experience, such as an internship.

Those surveyed said 48 percent of last spring's new hires had such experience.

Besides that, Scheetz said, businesses are looking for applicants with drive, enthusiasm and initiative, who are quick learners, independent thinkers and open-minded.

They also want applicants who know their way around a computer keyboard, work well as part of a group, have strong organizational skills and are respectful of other cultures.

''The employers absolutely want all their employees to be multiculturally aware,'' Scheetz said.

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