CHICO, Calif. - Thousands of Chico State graduates will don their caps and gowns this weekend, accept their diplomas and step out into a job market that remains as competitive as ever.
On Saturday about 1,800 newly minted grads walked the stage during ceremonies at Chico State.
They entered the track and field stadium to the orchestral sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance," a song that signals a move into the future.
And while Chico State's motto is "Today Decides Tomorrow," the recent economic past doesn't breed a lot of confidence in the future as the new grads now look to put their educations to use.
"I think the job market's been relatively terrible for new grads," business major Audrey Nelepovitz said.
Fortunately for Nelopovitz, she has a job waiting for her in Southern California.
But she said finding that job was a job in itself.
"I dedicated at least an hour a day to job searching," she explained.
Nelepovitz said being proactive in the current job market is a necessity to make sure she can hit the ground running. And she's not the only one of the Class of 2014 who's been sending out resumes and cover letters ahead of graduation day.
"I haven't really heard a whole lot of people just say, 'Oh, I'm going to just look and wait and see what happens,'" she said.
While Nelepovitz will use her degree to get to work right away, for others, like School of Behavioral Sciences graduate Israel Medina, there's still a lot of work to do before he hopes to land gainful employment.
Medina says a college degree doesn't seem to offer new graduates as much of a leg up as it used to, so he's heading to Brazil to start teaching English and gain practical work experience. To make himself stand out even further, he's contemplating continuing his education when he returns from abroad.
"I still think that I maybe should do some more education and get my masters and prepare myself as best I can," Medina said. "Because I know a lot of my friends are still having trouble finding jobs."
Tough job market or not, after Sunday, nearly 3,000 Chico State graduates will have new college degrees to put on their resumes. And while many know it won't earn them quite as much credit as it used to, Medina feels it'll still put them in a class above.
"I think this is the best you could do. At least, for higher education--a minimum of higher education," Medina said.