Graduation season is in full swing.
More than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas from the University of Hawaii-Manoa on Saturday.
But what lies ahead for the class of 2013?
Although the economy shows signs that it is slowly rebounding, the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is at 16.2-percent. That’s more than twice the national average.
So students getting their degrees need to find ways to make themselves stand out.
Their faces say it all.
It marks the culmination of a lot of hard work and tenacity.
And while these students reflect on their journey of how they made it here today. They’re also looking towards what lies ahead.
“I got to pay my parents back somehow,” says Audrey Davis, a UH communications major.
“I think the markets still pretty good down here,” says Jordan Uraba, a UH engineering major.
The unemployment rate has dropped here in Hawaii to 5.1% showing improvement compared to the 7.1% unemployment rate we saw in 2009 at the peak of the recession.
But some college graduates say they are still having a difficult time getting hired.
“I’ve been applying for jobs every single day, 20 a day, it’s not been easy. I’ve applied here, all over the mainland, I’ve even applied internationally. It’s just really hard for entry level jobs right now,” says Davis.
She’s a communication major.
Other students in the education or engineering fields, say the job hunt process has been a little smoother.
“I just got hired last week to be a PE teacher at Waimalu Elementary so I’m really excited about that,” says Matthew Cheape, a kinesiology major.
“It looks pretty good for us, for civils at least. Already I have a job in construction,” says Uraba.
Data shows that the recession has taken a toll on all industries in Hawaii except the health care and education-related fields.
The construction field is showing signs of a modest recovery.
And the hospitality and professional and business services industry are making significant rebounds.
“The other one technology at the forefront, green jobs, sustainability and engineering is a big one,” says Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who was watching his daughter graduate today.
“I think as we go forward STEM related fields – science, engineering, mathematics areas and areas related to the health sciences,” says Tom Apple, Chancellor of UH Manoa.
Of the students we spoke to today, the ones that took internships were the ones who had jobs already lined up.
“It looks good when you’re taking the initiative to apply with companies for internships,” says Uraba. “Networking is really big in Hawaii,” he adds.
Statistics show that getting a college degree still greatly improves your chance at getting a job and earning more money.
High school grads were making an average of $9.48 an hour in 2012 while college grads were earning an average of $16.60 an hour.