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College Grads Launching Businesses

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
December 23, 2009

Faced with a brutal job market and a staggeringly high unemployment rate, some college and grad school graduates are taking matters into their own hands and turning to entrepreneurship.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, about 7 percent fewer graduates from the class of 2010 are expected to be hired this year. Those who graduated in 2009 saw a 22 percent decrease in hiring from the year before. Meanwhile, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a global outplacement consulting group, entrepreneurship is on the rise: Job seekers starting their own businesses increased to 9 percent through the third quarter of 2009, compared to 5 percent at the end of 2008.

Another recent survey conducted by Michigan State University confirmed that hiring of new college graduates plummeted about 35 to 40 percent this year and is expected to drop an additional 2 percent next year. But Phil Gardner, director of the university's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, which conducted the survey, noted that entrepreneurship has become a much stronger field for college graduates.

"Given the state of the economy, and the state of the job market, many young people are getting the push they needed to become entrepreneurs," explained Bo Fishback, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, who was quoted in the Journal. "It's a lot easier to decide to launch your own company when there aren't a lot of jobs out there."

Drema Howard, director of the University of South Florida's Career Center, agreed. "In the past, the recessions have not impacted college students as much as this recession has," she told the Tampa Tribune. "I think we're seeing more students saying, 'Well, I'm not going to depend on someone else. I'm going to take care of my own career and be my own boss.'"

The Tribune reports that Andrew Dundas, for example, was unemployed for four months after graduating in 2007 before he decided to launch Feed-a-Bull, which delivers food from more than 30 restaurants in the USF area. He now employs 13 workers, and expects to pull in $400,000 in sales this year.

Similarly, Patrick Porter and Brad Arbab, who recently graduated from University of California San Diego, opened up two franchises called College Nannies and Tutors. Porter noted in a press release that opening the franchise allowed him to "gain a true entrepreneurial experience, and also an opportunity to improve my community."

College career experts explain that entrepreneurship makes sense for new graduates. The Journal points out that young adults have an easier time dealing with long hours, have fewer responsibilities and financial obligations than older adults, and easily adapt to the latest technological trends.

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