With an elevated number of underemployed workers, recent college graduates are having a hard time edging their way into a tough job market.
Underemployment a combination of unemployed people, workers who are employed part-time, but would like to work full time, and those who have given up searching is at 20.3 percent in California.
That number is amplified in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, and job seekers have noticed the impacts.
Jeremy Busto, a 29-year-old 2011 graduate of California State University, Stanislaus, has the education needed to succeed in his area of study but doesn't have the experience, a fact that he says has hurt his chance of finding work.
Busto, who majored in chemistry and minored in biology, wants to find a job in the medical field but has found that difficult.
"I find it increasingly frustrating because a lot of companies are hiring internally," he said.
Although he has had some temporary jobs, Busto has spent a lot of time since graduation unemployed and looking for work.
"It's very degrading," he said. "I look everywhere. I look online, I look in the paper, and nobody's looking for me, specifically. I'm pretty sure it's experience."
Dozens of applications and three interviews in several months haven't helped Busto's job hopes.
He thinks his lack of experience when compared with other applicants who are established in the medical field is holding him back.
But Busto realizes he isn't alone. Many of his high school and college friends are in similar situations.
Other soon-to-be job seekers understand the need to be flexible when looking for work.
Ruben Castaneda, a graduate student at the University of California at Merced, said he's not concerned about finding work in his field, quantitative psychology, when he graduates.
Castaneda said he plans to aim for a high salary range when he gets out of graduate school, but conceded that the plan might have to be revised depending on employment conditions.
"I would probably start looking six months before I graduate for that high-
paying job, and if nothing comes up, then I'm willing to take a lower-paying job, if it's convenient," he said.
Faculty and advisers at UC Merced are well aware of the job environment and take it into consideration when dealing with students, Castaneda said.
"They're pretty realistic about job expectations," he said. "They guide you
toward the field that is more in demand. They're pretty honest about it."
Brian O'Bruba, director of the Career Services Center for UC Merced, said employment difficulties aren't specific to any particular region. He said sometimes that means jumping into a job regardless of the pay, and that can be a plus, exposing students to their field of interest.
"I think it's a trend nationwide where some students are maybe taking a little bit longer to get into a position that they might consider to be their career position," O'Bruba said. "I think sometimes they're focusing on steppingstone positions that will hopefully lead to better opportunities."
Most students at UC Merced have come of age during the poor economy and don't take anything for granted when it comes to their career paths, he said.
"Twenty years ago, it was go to university, go to college, get a great education, get a great job," O'Bruba said.
"Today, it's really go to college, get a great education and create a good job. I think today's graduating students, especially from our campus, are very entrepreneurial. They're very creative in terms of how they're starting to leverage their resources to find that first destination-type of opportunity," he said.
At UC Merced, there's been an uptick in students using career services, even among freshmen. Because of the interest, the staff has increased its focus on more four-year professional development plans with students.
There's also been a jump in employers interested in UC Merced students.
Over the past year, there's been about a 38 percent increase of employers posting positions for students on the university's online job-posting system.
"They're kind of targeting our campus and we're also, at the same point, targeting them to make them aware of the type of talent that we have here," O'Bruba said.