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Career counselor offers job-hungry grads tips on finding work

STANFORD -- You're a new college graduate looking for work, you've sent out a hundred resumes this summer -- and still no luck. Are there any entry-level jobs left in this recession-plagued economy?

Yes, says Virginia Mak, a counselor at Stanford University's Career Planning and Placement Center -- but you have to be innovative and work a bit harder these days to find them.

"Sending out a hundred resumes sounds impressive -- but if you're talking about getting leverage for the effort you're putting out, it's not the most effective way to find a job," she said. "You need to make connections with people."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 16- to 24- year-old labor force will level at 23.3 million jobs this summer, about 400,000 fewer positions than the same period last year.

Although the number of on-campus interviews at Stanford last year was at least as high as previous years, the number of job offers appeared to be down.

"Usually after commencement there is a huge lull in activity at the Career Planning and Placement Center," Mak said, "but this year there were a lot of bodies at the center. The general sense is that things are not as good as they were.

"Students are much more pragmatic than they used to be. A couple of years ago, they came in expecting the perfect job. Now, a lot of them say, 'I just want a job to pay off my loans and get out into the world.' "

Mak offers these tips to recent graduates still hunting for their first "real" job:

Public service can work the opposite way.

"Good public service positions are hard to come by in some places," Mak said. "But we've found that if students just get up and move to Washington, D.C. -- tap into networks, start volunteering, have patience -- within one to six months these people usually get some pretty decent positions."

"I remember one Stanford student -- really bright -- who was getting a graduate degree in systems analysis," Mak said. "He interviewed with about 60 engineering companies on campus and got only two offers, neither of which he liked. Then he started working more closely with his professors on academic research projects. That led him to a number of positions more in line with work that he loves."



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