As thousands of University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates received diplomas over the weekend, economists said their job prospects were improved yet still uncertain.
New graduate hiring is up this spring, but still well below the 21 percent year-over-year drop in 2009, said Leslie Kohlberg, director of career services at the UW's College of Letters and Science.
Because of that, graduates are more realistic than they were prior to the 2007-2009 economic recession, Kohlberg said.
"We used to say students had a problem with entitlement -- they thought they were going to get (six-figure salaries) and bonuses and were not realistic in their expectations," she said. "The students graduating today have been in college the entire time we've been in recession."
Some members of UW's Class of 2013 said that, although they don't have jobs, they're optimistic their degrees mean work will be there for them.
Elizabeth Grady of Sun Prairie, who graduated with a journalism degree, said she's moving to Minnesota to get married. She's hopeful to get a job in the creative department at an advertising firm.
Ali Krolicki said she doesn't have concrete plans just yet, but the Wausau native said she wants to use her international studies degree abroad.
For Mike Walker, a political science graduate, home beckons. He'll go back to his hometown of Eden Prairie, Minn., before possibly moving to San Francisco to pursue a career in business-to-business sales.
Max Puchalsky of Verona, a political science and music double major, won't be finding a job right away. He said, over the next six months, he'd like to earn a Fullbright Scholarship to keep studying in London. Wherever he goes, Puchalsky said it'll be with his girlfriend of eight years.
The graduates' prospects have brightened because more employers are looking to hire than cut back, UW's Kohlberg said. Salaries are also increasing across the degree fields, she said.