Recent grads face challenges in finding jobs

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sheena Moleta wakes up by 9:15 every morning. With her diploma from the University of Central Florida hanging above her computer, the recent marketing graduate logs on to a UCF database to check new listings for jobs in her field.

Then Moleta, dressed in the white shirt and black pants required for her current sales-manager job, sits on her bedroom floor with several folders. One is filled with copies of her resume. Another lists her job history, complete with addresses and contacts from as far back as high school.

Moleta figured finding a job in her field would be hard, but not this hard. She thought going to college during the recession meant that, by the time she graduated, jobs would be available and she would be competing with her fellow graduates.

“You know it’s going to be hard, but you don’t expect to be back where you were four years ago,” Moleta said. “I just think that, in the past four years, I grew up and I’m ready, but there’s this block.”

Jane Cordray-Brandon, director of career services for Rollins College, said that as the job market improves, employers have their pick from “thousands and thousands of kids” looking for work. With the creation of more jobs, more people enter the search, and employers can be very selective in who they hire and the experience they prefer in new employees.

“There are too many graduates who have been out there for a while that are more qualified … You’ve got previous graduates job hopping,” Cordray-Brandon said.

According to a survey by MonsterTrak, an online job board for students, 35 percent of 2003 graduates are still looking for a job of any kind, and only 10 percent of 2004 graduates had lined up a job before graduation.

Tyrone Favis Jr., a UCF graduate with a degree in business management, might have to stick it out in the Waterford Lakes Town Center Super Target job he held during college to make rent.

When he isn’t working, he searches job listings for a management training position and attends UCF employment sessions.

“I remember thinking at graduation, `There are all these kids in their caps and gowns, and this is my competition,'” Favis said. “I would love entry-level right now.”

Moleta has received offers for entry-level positions in her field but most have been non-salaried positions with no benefits at less than what she makes in retail. She lowered her salary requirements to $25,000, down from $30,000, a year. She no longer expects an employer to cover moving costs, though her battered 1993 Geo Storm probably couldn’t make the trip anyway.

And time is running out, she said. In November, Moleta’s bills will jump from $1,000 a month to $1,300 a month because she must start paying on her student loans.

Favis thinks having internships like Moleta would have helped distinguish himself from other recent college graduates. His father, Tyrone Favis Sr. thinks so too, but Tyrone Jr., admits he thought he deserved work after spending four years earning a degree.

“There was a time when I felt entitled (to work), but not anymore,” Favis said. “You have to work for a job.”

His father wants him to succeed and wants to help. He offered to let Tyrone move home to Lakeland, Fla., but the son refused. That’s unlike 64 percent of 2004 graduates who planned to move back in with their parents in May, according to MonsterTrak. And half of last year’s graduated class still lives at home, Forker said.

Tyrone will accept financial assistance. His father gives him $200 each month for rent. He just dropped off the 2003 Camry Dad loaned Tyrone in exchange for a 1999 blue four-door Saturn he said was a $2,500 late graduation gift.

“I’m subsidizing my son,” Favis Sr. said, adding both he and his son have learned from the experience. “I would think he would land somewhere with good work … but I’ve learned it’s just going to take time.”

But Favis and Moleta wonder how long.