With Jobs Scarce, Grads Turn To Uncle Sam

EN 5.18.09 kelly wallace grads and government jobs

As college senior Wai Chang works out, it's clear that his job search has gotten physical.

"I'm trying to do my best to promote myself," he said. "It's changing; it's definitely a changing world."

Chang's first employment choice - investment banking - hasn't been loaded with jobs lately, so he's training for an employer who is: the F.B.I.

Chang's plight reflects a trend that shows fewer college students leaving campus with jobs.

A new national survey of 7,000 graduates found that 19.7 percent found a job. That's down 51 percent from 2007.

However, while most employers are cutting back, it seems that Uncle Sam is looking to hire. That's why City College of New York held the school's first ever job fair for strictly government jobs.

Jobs that once seemed boring and bureaucratic to recent graduates like Chang now look more appealing.

"I think [government jobs are going to be more appealing]," said Eric Evans, an engineering major. "Unless somebody from the private sector calls me and offers me a job."

"Teach for America," which places college graduates in the neediest public schools, received more than 35,000 applicants this year, an increase of 42 percent over last year.

Elyse Ross, a senior at Barnard College, will teach in New York City this fall.

"I think people, especially with the recession and everything collapsing, they're re-thinking what they want after college," she said.

It's good for the country…and the resume.

"People are looking at this as an alternative and it is an excellent alternative, employers really respect the skills that you get from working in these settings," said Laurence Shatkin, the author of 200 Best Jobs for College Graduates.