New college graduates worried about job prospects with shaky market

It's college graduation season – all around the nation and in the Bay Area. Many of the new graduates will need jobs, and while the overall outlook is encouraging, there is still plenty of uncertainty in the job market.

At San Jose State University more than 7,000 students received their degrees over the past week.

Students who graduated from the university on Friday majored in political science, psychology, sociology, urban and regional planning and justice studies among others.

Students said the next steps in life are exciting, and scary all at the same time.

"I guess it's time now to move on to the real world you know," said Gabriel Wong, who graduated with a major in forensic chemistry. He hopes to get a job at a crime lab.

"I mean it is definitely challenging I would say it is scary just because of the unfamiliarity of it but it is fun, it is always fun putting yourself in uncomfortable situations," Wong said. 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire nearly 4% more graduates from the class of 2023 compared to the class of 2022. But the hiring plans have slowed down in recent months with a similar survey last fall showing employers were more ambitious and had expectations of hiring nearly 15% more graduates than last year.

Overall, though, interest from employers remains high for new grads in many sectors.

"This past year we have a lot of companies wanting to come back to campus and meeting our students in person," said Bobbi Makani, the Executive Director of the career center at San Jose State.

Makani said the job market in tech is down compared to last year, especially due to some over-hiring by tech companies during the pandemic era, but some others sectors are showing strong growth.

Makani also said some key traits apply to careers in any industry.

"Aside from the cognitive skills that students are picking up from their academic courses we need to make sure that they are developing other skills as well. One of those is communication, leadership," she said.

Isbabela Hernandez majored in justice studies at SJSU and says job hunting has been slow, but she’s still hopeful about the future.

"It is kind of like there are openings but you don’t really get a response. You know you will send your resume, you will send an email, but it is hard to get a response back because I am sure all the other graduates are also sending e-mails, so it has been really tough" she said. 

Added Wong, "It's not always just about the knowledge that you have but the connections that you have made and the people you have met."

Employer surveys show the technology industry has significantly pulled back on plans to hire new college graduates this year. The survey of employers showed an expected decrease of 17%/ But there are some bright spots – with the transportation and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries both expecting big increases in new college graduate hiring.

One piece of advice career counselors have for college graduates is to keep their options open when it comes to industries.