LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - While college is supposed to be an exciting and hopeful time, in the wake of soaring unemployment rates many soon-to-be college graduates are facing stress and uncertainty. Local students and career counselors say the number of job applicants continues to grow even as available jobs are dwindling.
For so many college and university students as well as recent graduates, the promise of a college degree is a long way removed from the reality of the current nation-wide recession. Louisville resident Jamie Fogg, who graduated in December, says professors and advisors at Western Kentucky University didn't prepare her for what's turned into a seemingly endless job search.
Fogg says "they made it sound like it was easy to find a job - do these internships and you'll make contacts."
"They didn't make it sound like it was going to be easy," said Fogg, who is now a part-time employee at a daycare center. "But they didn't make it sound like it was going to be this difficult."
Fogg, who graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management, says she started looking for a job even before she graduated, and now she's beginning to get a little frustrated.
"All this time, money, and it's not paying off," Fogg said. "I feel like when you're in school, they keep telling you it's going to be so easy to find a job and you're expecting everyone to just open their arms to you. And it's not like that. I think we picked the wrong time to graduate."
Fogg's efforts have included "staffing agencies, family, friends - I've done the whole monster job, career builder, I've checked websites as well."
According to local career counselors, Fogg isn't alone. Leslye Erickson, Director of the Career Development Center at University of Louisville, says the hit on local jobs happened suddenly, for reasons no one can quite understand.
As recently as December, according to Erickson, the numbers were fairly normal. "About mid-January, something happened that really changed the possibilities for our students," she says, adding: "At the moment, everybody is feeling the pinch. It's maybe the worst I've seen in 25 years."
Fogg advises her students to sharpen their interview skills, establish connections through internships and other opportunities, and build up resumes. Also, she recommends flexibility.
"At this point in time, you need to think in terms of alternatives. That dream job may not be there any more. you need to have a Plan B and a Plan C - even a Plan D."
For Fogg, that Plan B happened quickly. "I guess about five months into it when I finally said I'm going to just take whatever I can get."
And while Erickson says opportunities still exist in the areas of engineering, health care and particularly nursing, no specialty or career opportunity is immune, making for scary times for many graduates.
"I'm nervous that I'm not going to find a job in my major," Fogg said. "Or something that's going to help pay the bills."