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Job outlook improving for college graduates

Associated Press

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- Job prospects for next year's college graduates are improving, according to a survey of employers.

The survey, conducted by St. Cloud State University, found nearly all 108 employers will maintain or increase hiring next year, though only 26 percent planned to offer pay increases.

The school's Career Services Center said it conducted the survey -- of companies that recruit on Minnesota campuses -- because no specific forecasts have been available on job prospects. State data tracks job vacancies after the fact, and the latest report found vacancies growing but often in occupations paying less than $12.50 an hour.

Employers rated internships and other work experience higher than grades on the list of job qualifications.

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That's no surprise to Casey Van Winkle, a 2004 graduate who majored in finance and economics.

He pursued an internship, 40 lunches with business contacts and the first student membership in a medical device manufacturing group. The result: At 22, he was the youngest of 300 Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceutical sales representatives in a training program this summer.

"You're going to have to step out of your comfort zone and do a lot of networking to find your job," Van Winkle said.

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