RALEIGH — The job market for new college graduates may be getting a bit brighter.
At the Career and Internship Fair hosted Friday by N.C. State University’s College of Management, 10 percent to 15 percent more companies were present than were at the event in spring 2012.
“It’s a good sign,” said Brian Newton, director of career and internship development at NCSU. “It’s a sign that the economy is picking up.”
Nationally, 48 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed nationwide, according to a report Jan. 24 by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
At NCSU specifically, 52.6 percent of 2011-12 graduates surveyed said they had secured jobs upon or shortly after graduation.
On Friday, more than 200 students, in high heels and dress shoes, rotated through the McKimmon Center in search of management opportunities in fields ranging from logistics to transportation and technology systems.
Both new and established companies, 86 in all, attended. Locally based companies such as NetApp spoke to students alongside national brands such as Target and J.Crew.
“Now that the first of the year has come, … there is a lot of desire to hire college graduates, to hire N.C. State graduates,” Newton said.
Some companies were recruiting at the fair for the first time, such as MHC Kenworth, a semi-truck dealership based in Springfield, Mo. The company, which has 90 locations in 11 states, opened 18 locations in North Carolina last month.
Laura Rupe, campus recruiter for MHC Kenworth, said that when she asked representatives at the company’s North Carolina-based stores for the names of the best universities in the state, they selected NCSU.
“There is a lot of high-level talent here,” Rupe said. “We have probably six or seven people from the fair we want to get in contact with.”
Kathleen Williams, manager of university relations at Cisco Systems, said the company returns to the fair year after year because of the large talent pool to draw from.
“We see N.C. State as one of our top suppliers locally,” she said. “It has been a great relationship.”
The majority of student attendees were either seniors seeking full-time jobs or juniors hoping to land internships.
For junior Corinne Nilsen, the personal connections forged at the event made her first internship fair a success.
“It’s all about being able to talk to people in person,” she said.
“It’s about giving a face to a name,” junior Nicole McGrath added. “For good or for bad, I guess. We are all just hoping to be remembered.”