It's graduation weekend for Sacramento State students. Almost 5,000 students will cross the stage at Sleep Train Arena in robes and mortar boards to receive their bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees.
Sacramento State will also bestow an honorary doctorate on former Hornet and current NBC news anchor Lester Holt, and Holt will deliver the commencement speech.
This spring, the California State University system marks its own milestone: three million students have graduated from the CSU system.
Capital Public Radio spoke with a few seniors before their last final exams to reflect on the job market for graduates and their future plans.
Marisa Hildebrand is a graduating journalism student from Woodland. She has written for the Sac State Hornet and the Woodland Daily Democrat. She was walking out of The Well on Thursday morning with a smile on her face.
"I just finished my last final at 8:00 a.m., then we went to the gym, so I'm on cloud nine right now," Hildebrand says. "I'm going to pick up my graduation ring right now, and I feel great."
Hildebrand knows that journalism is a tough industry to break into in 2015, but she's keeping a positive attitude.
"Newspapers are transitioning to online, so there's still hope. I didn't give up. And there's radio," she says.
Hildebrand says she's been applying for a lot of jobs, but she's running into a common problem for new graduates.
"A lot of the places I would love to work with eventually need five to seven years of experience, so it's building that experience now that I have to work on," says Hildebrand. "I'm going to continue freelancing as much as I can while I have a job that can help pay the bills."
Hildebrand would like to write for Sunset Magazine or Women's Health one day, but she's not sure about relocating to New York City where most magazines are based. She hopes to combine her love of journalism and surfing by moving to Southern California to write for Surfer Magazine. She'll be riding one wave of good news -- the unemployment rate in California fell to 6.5 percent in March 2015.
Philosophy major Andy Johnson, of Elk Grove, knows he'll need to make some changes in order to make in the "real world." He's hoping to have a career flying jets for the U.S. Navy.
"Well, the plan originally was to go to law school, but plans have changed and I'm going into the Navy," Johnson says. He says he decided about a year ago when his friends in the Navy convinced him to sign up.
But will Johnson sacrifice his cool haircut and hipster beard to serve his country?
"Yes, yes. I'll grow it back after I retire," Johnson says. "Sounds like a good plan."
Angela Brouqua was studying for her last exam on the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction near Del Norte Hall. The Folsom-native, history major currently works for the Sacramento City Unified School District as a substitute teacher.
"If I were to be a history teacher, the job market is not good," she says. "However, for special education there's always a need, so I'm looking positive for the future."
Brouqua says she plans to come back to Sacramento State in the fall to earn her special education teaching credential.
Cody Geer is a photography major from Elk Grove. He hasn't lined up a post-graduation job yet, but he's optimistic.
"With my photography degree, I hopefully will become a teacher or get into gallery work or do some commercial stuff on the side," he says.
He's going to work all summer to save up money to start his own freelance photography business.
"I'm starting to build up capital to invest in equipment to start up my own thing," Geer says.
Geer knows the freelance photography market is very competitive, but there are lots of jobs out there for young and hungry shutterbugs ready to hustle.
"I've been taught by the best, so I have a good understanding of how it works," he says.
He says he wishes Sacramento State offers more commercial and marketing classes.
"But if you were engaged with the teachers, you developed a pretty good understanding of what's out there and what you should do to get out there," he says.
Bjorn Bookser is an accounting and business major from San Diego. He started out on the entrepreneurship track, but switched when he reconsidered the practical side of his degree.
"I felt it was one of the most valuable business degrees," Bookser says. "Accounting is the backbone of every organization. There is a high demand for accountants because every business needs that. I felt that [entrepreneurship] was something you can adapt to, be creative, and learn as you go. Accounting is a skill set that will be the most valuable."
Bookser hasn't lined up a post-graduation job yet, but he's interviewed with several organizations and has offers on the table. He wants to work for "businesses that are innovating, creating, and on the lead of something new... everything is going to be technology driven."
While the future isn't set, he's optimistic about graduating.
"I'm definitely ready and looking forward becoming an adult," Bookser says. "You're not an adult yet when you're just doing what other people tell you what to do."
Chris Grellas, a business finance major from Sacramento, already has a job lined up. He was hired to start at Hanson McClain Advisors.
"It's a lot of stress that's relieved from me, and I just feel very blessed," Grellas says. "I think because I took an internship with [Hanson McClain Advisors] last semester and I've been able to apply my degree, it has definitely paid off. The internship got me the job; I was able to show I can do the work."
Grellas won't have a Benjamin Braddock summer by the pool, he's starting his new job on June 1.
"They gave me the option to take as much time off as wanted, but I decided I wanted to go right into it," Grellas says.
He has some advice for his fellow Sac State Hornets still pounding the pavement looking for a job.
"Fix up that resume, and send it to business professionals you know to look over your resume," says Grellas. "Send it out everywhere you'd want to work. Then give follow-up calls and meet with them, even if they're not hiring. Make sure you're on your best behavior and have a conversation with them. It's all about making the conversation."
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