Spring means many college students are counting down the days until graduation. While the papers and final exams are coming to an end, the work of finding that first job is just beginning.
For some students, it’s hard to believe their college career is almost over.
"It has gone really fast. It feels like I was just moving into the dorms and trying to get my room set up with my roommate, Bobby," University of Sioux Falls Senior Blaze Kilian said.
"It's definitely bitter sweet; I mean it's going to be hard to leave the people here. I love the people who are here," University of Sioux Falls Senior Maura Bickner said.
"It has been a very good experience through student activities from being an RA through interacting with the different small jobs I have had,” Kilian said.
Kilian took a liking to one job in particular, Swan Lake Christian Camp. His summer job grew into a full-time position as the program’s director. He admits his job search was a little unusual.
"I came up to my camp director and I said, you know, I am graduating this year and I am kind of looking for a job. And he said, oh, well maybe we should talk sometime. So we talked about it and we prayed about and that's about how I got the position," Kilian said.
"So, if you can find a mentor or someone who can help you get your foot in the door or who can give you some advice on how to get where you want to go that's always helpful," Augustana Counseling Services coordinator Rachael Anderson said.
These are helpful tips to remind job seekers how networking can create a lot of opportunities to advance your job search.
"Our professors always say how important networking is but then once you are doing the job search you realize how vital it is and just how helpful it is getting your foot in the door," Bickner said.
Once you've secured an interview, Anderson recommends practicing.
"It's okay to sit in front of a mirror and answer basic interview questions or have your answers ready. It will help you feel less anxious and it will also help you be prepared so you're caught a lot less off guard but keep in mind people aren't hiring you because of your interviewing skills, they are hiring you because of your experience and your ability to talk about that," Anderson said.
Other students, like Bickner, can rest easy because she has job after graduation.
"It's a huge relief because this semester is really busy and crazy for me. So having that to have after graduation is really helpful," Bickner said.
Networking through a USF alum, Bickner will work at a Twin Cities accounting firm.
"Accounting firms are really competitive looking for employees, so they start really early and I thank to my professors for letting us know that and encouraging and helping me get on the ball and get moving in that process," Bickner said.
There is good news for soon-to-be college graduates who may not have a job yet.
"Employers are very optimistic and I think the labor market looks strong. In national surveys, employers have reported a 7.8 increase. So I think our graduates have every reason to be excited hopeful and optimistic," Director of the Academic Success Center at University of Sioux Falls Billie Streufert said.
Streufert adds that many students will stick around the area even after graduation, while others may decide to go back home.
"Many of our students prefer the area because the unemployment rate is lower and because they get to know some of the phenomenal organizations here through internships and part time employment," Streufert said.
Kilian grew up in Brandon. His new job at Swan Lake Christian Camp in Viborg is less than 60 miles from home.
"I had it very easy compared to some people so I am very grateful," Kilian said.
Experts say Sioux Falls and the surrounding region has always had low unemployment. Around 85 percent of local graduates stay in this area.