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POSTED: Monday, May 12, 2014 - 10:15pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 3:09pm

Graduation day... finally after years of school, its time to start your life and career. Well, if you can find a job. 24-year old Lauren Gentry knows this story too well. She said, ““Its very almost depressing, and can get you down really easy,” in regards to almost a year after earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, she continues to search for a job. “You go through this long process of wondering what is it that you're doing, what is it about you that's not right for you not to be able to find that perfect job,” said Gentry.

President and CEO of Tyler Economic Development, Tom Mullins, said, “You don't expect that, you're thinking I've got a degree and somebody will be calling me right away, and it doesn't happen for everyone.” He said he sees the challenge Gentry, and a lot of recent college graduates face. “They did everything right, they worked hard in high school, they built up their GPA, they applied to and were accepted into an university program, and then to get that degree and then not have any connection for months and some cases years, is very frustrating,” said Mullins.

According the the U.S. Department of Labor, out of 3 million new graduates under the age of 25, 36% are jobless or unemployed. “Even though they have a degree its very competitive, when you have several people with degrees, that one person that shines above the rest is the one that may get the job,” said Robert Lynch of the East Texas Workforce Solutions. They believe graduates are having trouble being hired because they aren’t making themselves the ideal employees. “I'm not sure that a lot of college grads are or recent seniors in college really know that, because that's the way to get to a particular employer, is to meet them one on one,” said Kim Stacy, East Texas Workforce Solutions.

That’s why the University of Texas at Tyler hosted a program called the East Texas Job Outlook. They brought in business leaders from the area’s top industries to share their knowledge on how to land a job and turn it into a career. “I think a lot them believe that a college degree will guarantee them a job, so that's all they do, and its so much more than that now a days,” said Stephanie Long, host of the event.

UT Tyler’s ‘Life After College Workshop’ also helps underclassmen become more working world ready. “We're hoping it just gives students that information they're lacking,” said Christina Gibson of Student Money Management at UT Tyler. Information like what to expect once ‘alumni status’ is earned. “Those things you expect after graduation, that you're going to have this big fancy job, and this big fancy apartment, and that may not always be the case, you may just be landing that stepping stone in the direction of your dream job,” said Gibson.

Three out of every five UT Tyler students receive job offers before they graduate. However, Marilyn Albert, Career Services Director at UT Tyler, sees how for some, it’s not always easy. “When i talk to students a lot of time their frustration stumps when they can't find a job in their major or the field they were hoping they would get a job in,” said Albert. She thinks this is probably why some choose an alternative route. The numbers prove that. 150,000 are in retail, 100,000 are waiters and bartenders, 80,000 are in customer service, AND 60,000 work in manual labor. “

You might not get a job in the career that you've chosen, but you can always build skills in the career that you want. If you just get one year experience in a job, full time experience, then your job search will change exponentially,” said Albert. Lynch agrees with Albert, “temporary jobs are great, sometimes that opens the door for a person to get a full time position and when an employer looks at your work history at least shows some time of work until you find that job.” Mullins also added, “Students come out of school, they're not able to find something in their career fields, they'll do some kind of work, just to pay the bills and get some revenue coming in until they can make a connection in their career field.”

Despite everything, Gentry remains hopeful for herself, and those like her, will find their dream careers. She said, “whatever it is you're meant to do whatever your life plan is, it should, i feel like it will come along.”  

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