With rising student loan debt, dwindling job positions and the steady threat of unemployment constantly in the news, it can be unnerving to college students on the verge of graduation.
"It absolutely terrifies me," Rachel Downs, senior in journalism and electronic media, said. "Ideally, a year from now I should be graduating with a degree and have a job and that is not promised at all."
In a recent press release, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization known as Generation Opportunity announced its Millennial Jobs Report for June 2013. The release stated that the effective (U6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is 16.1 percent (NSA).
After graduating, students will have to go out in the real world or continue on to higher education. Those who choose not to continue schooling will have to face obstacles such as finding a job, paying back student loans, rent, bills, etc. As if those things were not hard enough on their own, an uncertain job market makes them more daunting.
"I know a lot of people who are young and graduated and they're still at Target," Andrea Marquina, a senior in special education, said. "And they have to pay for their loans. When I think about that, it does freak me out a little bit."
"Young people are finding fewer opportunities and are being saddled with the costs of our country's unsustainable deficits," said Evan Feinberg, President of Generation Opportunity.
The lack of job prospects causes some to give up on the search. According to the press release, the declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force.
Marquina, like many other students, plans to attend graduate school and will pursue a master's degree in speech pathology.
"I feel like I don't worry about it too much," said Marquina, who hopes the situation will improve between now and the two and a half years she will be in grad school. "I don't think it will be as bad but I don't think there will be a significant improvement."
The struggle to get a job is not just a post grad problem. College students are finding it difficult to find employment,such as part-time jobs, while they are pursuing a degree.
Downs said that after working at the post office in Andy Holt for three years, she applied for jobs in the mall.
"No one called me back and I was jobless," she said.
Some students manage to find jobs through connections.
"My first actual job was when I was 19," said Marquina, who worked at Target thanks to a friend. Downs said she also found work by talking to her friends.
Those looking for work can visit UT Career Services at 100 Dunford Hall or online at career.utk.edu.