Passage – I

College graduation brings both the satisfaction of academic achievement and the expectation of a well-paying job.But for 6000 graduates at San Jose State this year, there's uncertainty as they enter one of the worst job markets in decades. Ryan Stewart has a freshly minted degree in religious studies, but no job prospects. "You look at everybody's parents and neighbors, and they're getting laid off and don't have jobs," said Stewart. "Then you look at the young people just coming into the workforce... it's just scary." When the class of 2003 entered college the future never looked brighter. But in the four years they've been here, the world outside has changed dramatically. "Those were the exciting times, lots of dot-com opportunities, exploding offers, students getting top dollar with lots of benefits," said Cheryl Allmen-Vinnidge, of the San Jose State Career Center. "Times have changed. It's a new market." Cheryl Allmen-Vinnidge ought to know. She runs the San Jose State Career Center. It is sort of a crossroad between college and the real world. Allmen-Vinnidge says students who do find jobs after college have done their homework. "The typical graduate who does have a job offer started working on it two years ago. They've postured themselves well during the summer. They've had several internships," she said. And they've majored in one of the few fields that are still hot -- like chemical engineering, accounting, or nursing -- where average starting salaries have actually increased over last year. Other popular fields (like information systems management, computer science, and political science) have seen big declines in starting salaries. Ryan Stewart (he had hoped to become a teacher) may just end up going back to school. "I'd like to teach college some day and that requires more schooling, which would be great in a bad economy," he said. To some students a degree may not be ticket to instant wealth. For now, they can only hope its value will increase over time.

Passage – II

After years of barely any activity, the job market for college seniors and graduate students finally appears to be picking up. Firms are interviewing more, giving more offers and even bumping up pay a bit.

While the market is nowhere near as strong as in the late 1990s — when the job market was so hot, firms were recruiting on beer-soaked beaches during spring break — a turnaround definitely appears to be taking shape. "It is starting to pick up," says Carol Lyons, dean of career services at Northeastern University in Boston. "Not in any drastic way; in a slow, hopefully steady, way. ”Andrew Ferguson, director of the career development center at the University of Richmond, calls this market more "normal," unlike the late 1990s. "It's actually been a decent year." The same appears to be true for graduate students. "This year is a definite improvement than earlier in this decade," says Dan Poston, director of the business school at the University of Washington in Seattle. The number of second-year MBAs at the University of Washington with job offers is up 20% from last year. Megan Wasserman, 22, hasn't even gotten her diploma from Northeastern University but she has already started work as a production assistant at the Dr. Phil show, where the journalism student interned in the fall. With enough credits to skip the final semester, Wasserman jumped at the chance for a full-time job with the show in Los Angeles when it was offered to her late last year.” I’m one of the lucky ones," she says. Although there is little solid data about the current job market for college students, anecdotal evidence suggests things are getting better: 

• Booz Allen Hamilton expects as many as 400 recent college graduates will start work in its government and technology group this fiscal year, which began April 1. Last year, 300 were hired, while the year before, 220 new college grads started work, says Judy Merkel, director of recruiting at the McLean, Va.-based consulting firm.

• The number of firms recruiting students at Georgetown University's business school is up 24% from a year ago. Half of second-year students have job offers, up from 40% at this time a year ago, says John Flato, director of MBA career management at the Washington, D.C., school.

• Enterprise Rent-A-Car plans to hire 6,500 college seniors for its management training program this year, up from about 6,000 last year.