With Commencement (May 15) about a week away, West Virginia University seniors are preparing to trade in their college threads for business suits.

Career experts at West Virginia University say job prospects look good for new graduates.

Bob Kent, director of the Career Services Center, said it has been an uphill struggle for students for the past couple of years, but he has witnessed a return to pre-9/11 recruiting.

With career fairs, Employment Expos and Virtual e-Fairs, we saw a 15 percent growth in employer participation,he said.There were 600-plus job listings for the Big East e-fair (an online recruiting resource that connects students and alumni with potential employers) alone with 10,000 hits.

According to CollegeGrad.com, hiring among the top 500 entry-level employers was up 14.2 percent last year.

Kent is encouraged by the upward trend, especially in the entry-level market. He noted that job opportunities cut across many career fields, but graduates with degrees in business, health care, engineering, information technology and computer science are in highest demand.

It appears the stars are aligned this year and the majors are hitting on all cylinders,he said.Everything seems to be in demand, from teachers to biologists. This doesnt happen very often.

Recent projections by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (http://www.naceweb.org/) also paint a positive hiring picture. Overall, 61 percent of employers registered with NACE expect to increase college graduate hiring this year.

Meanwhile, average starting salaries continue to climb for new hires. The NACE reports marketing graduates have seen their average starting salary offer jump 6 percent, pushing their current average to $37,800, from last spring. Graduates in accounting, business, economics and engineering also posted healthy increases.

So, who is hiring the most new graduates nationwide?

Here are the CollegeGrad.com surveys top 10 employers and their projected 2005 entry-level hires:

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 7,000
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers: 3,200
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation: 3,000
  • Schlumberger: 3,000
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: 3,000
  • HCR Manor Care: 2,525
  • Ernst&Young: 2,500
  • IBM : 2,250
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection: 2,250
  • Teach For America: 2,100

* WVU s Career Services Center offers students tools for success*

As WVU students prepare to enter the next phase of their lives, the University offers many services for all levels of career development.

Beginning their freshman year, students are encouraged to take Orientation 151, a virtual e-course designed as acareer fitness programfor successful career planning, and its sister course, Orientation 252: The Job Search, assisting students with documenting their background and college experiences as they begin to target various career options.

To help students gain work experience, Career Services encourages them to use the centers Jobs Location and Development Office. The JLD Office classifies and houses a collection of off-campus job postings and internships.

The center has three new services for students searching for experience: career shadowing and career mentoring programs, organized in cooperation with the Student Government Association as part of the sophomore-junior experience, and virtual e-fairs.

In addition, Career Services also offers job fairs on campus and weekly tips on the Mountaineer Information Xpress, or MIX ( www.mix.wvu.edu ). Students can access these by clicking on the Career LifeLine. The site includes the latest information about the job market, including supply and demand and salary of various occupations.

As an added bonus, students can take advantage of WVU s partnership with MonsterTRAK.com, an Internet service providing a wide range of career opportunities. MonsterTRAK posts more than 40,000 jobs, internships and part-time positions each month. Other features include career development resources, resume and interview advice plus job search strategies targeted toward college students and recent graduates.

More on the net: http://www.wvu.edu/~careersc/