"I would say my experience with students is it's still a pretty tight labor market," said Art Taguding, executive director of career services at Stevenson University. "We're seeing it opening up a little bit, but there are still [fewer] opportunities than there were in the past and it's still very competitive."

Graduates' majors can have a big impact on their chances of finding a job.

Michael Wilson, a senior theater major at Coppin State University who returned to school after serving in the military, said he switched from a nursing major because he wanted to pursue his dream of being a director. Now about to graduate, he's uncertain about his future, as are many of his theater-major friends.

"We're all soul-searching," he said. "It's not like [graduating] from high school, where you can go live with your mom and dad. It's time to get a career going and start your life."

Stevenson's Taguding advises students in the job market to focus less on broad economic trends and more on their own skills and attitude.

"They have to have strong persistence and a positive mental attitude to get them through this process," he said.

Seeking work can be nerve-racking regardless of the state of the economy — especially for the uninitiated.

Eleanora Abram, a senior accounting major at Loyola University, said she felt nervous about finding a job, even though her professors expressed confidence about career prospects for accounting majors.

"That put me at ease, but at the same time I had to consider everyone saying how bad the economy was and friends not being able to get jobs," Abram said.

Abram, who enrolled in a career center program that stressed interviewing skills and resume writing and offered on-campus interviews, said she was pleasantly surprised when half of the dozen companies she applied to called her for interviews. Of those, three made offers last fall, including two after she had already accepted a job.

"I was shocked," said Abram, who will graduate on May 21 and start working in September as an audit associate for a downtown accounting firm. "I went through the whole process and was grateful to have one [job offer]. That was my goal. I'm more excited about graduation because I have something to show for all the hard work I've been doing the last four years."

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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