Earning a college diploma is a major milestone graduates and their families are celebrating. "Didn't picture this day anytime soon. It's so surprising and exciting," said Lauren Barranon, a Fresno State graduate.
Some Fresno State students who walked down the stage at the Social Sciences graduation ceremony Friday morning are already preparing to trade in their cap and gown for professional work clothes. "I thought at most, I'd probably be waiting about 6 months. I was really confident in my ability to get the job just because the geography area is so huge," said Geography major, Josh Moulton. Moulton will be making some big bucks when he starts his job -- working for PG&E next week.
But for other graduates, like Criminology major Barranon, the job search has been anything but easy. "It's been really hard, especially in victim's services. I feel like those areas, a lot of the jobs are the first to get cut," said Barranon.
While some may still be struggling to launch their careers, job experts say the employment outlook for new graduates is the best it's been in years. "This is a brighter outlook for the 2012 college graduates compared to those from 2008," said labor market consultant, Steven Gutierrez.
College graduates who majored in growing fields like computer science and nursing are more likely to find work. "Some of the fields that are kind of your mainstays in regards to job openings are usually the health field, business. Here locally, agriculture and in science," said Gutierrez.
But for other graduates in fields not hiring, the safety net is simply to stay in school. "The fact that there's not as many jobs available right now, staying in school for an extra couple years and hopefully the economy turns around definitely helps," said History major Stan Chain, who will be returning for his master's degree.
While graduates anxiously wait for the job interview, what's on many of their minds is having to pay back their student loans. According to the Foundation of Economic Education, the average college graduate is looking at a $25,000 debt -- and that can be more than enough of a reason to find a job soon.