Some college grads still stuck in minimum wage jobs, other students choose in-demand fields

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INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of thousands of college graduates are still reeling from the Great Recession. According to government statistics, 260,000 college graduates are working in minimum wage jobs.

Some of the only job growth post-recession has been in retail and food preparation.

One central Indiana professor said it’s all about what you study in school.

We found a few Butler University students taking a break Monday from their busy schedule, playing a game called spike ball.

“As soon as there’s sunlight, over 50 degrees, we try to get out there,” said Michael Blecha, a junior.

But they’re also playing a game of a different kind, a gamble, trying to pick the major that will pay off.

“You need to make sure you get something that’s worth your money in tuition,” said Kevin Odenwald, a senior at Butler University. “You do have to have a practical side of choosing a major.”

It’s why Odenwald took a crack at finance and marketing, instead of studying writing.

An associate professor of finance said it’s not surprising roughly 260,000 college graduates are stuck in minimum wage jobs.

“Eventually, things are going to get back to normal, but it’s going to take a while. The marketplace for education is in transition. Right now, there are a lot of people graduating with skills the industry doesn’t need,” said Dr. Matt Will of the University of Indianapolis.

Will said it’s a phenomenon that would’ve happened anyway, but the recession sped it up.

“This was inevitable because our higher education model is an old school model. It really is geared toward giving you certain degrees in certain fields, regardless of what the market thinks,” said Will.

Will points to science, technology and business as industries that show tremendous growth, especially in Indiana. Last year United Airlines added a nonstop flight from Indy to San Francisco, a move aimed at growing the already booming tech community here.

“We are attracting the right kind of businesses. We still have to match up the skills of the businesses with the students,” he said.

There are even initiatives in Marion County to help people who may not have a college degree find tech jobs. By some estimates, 600 IT jobs per year will be created in the county.

If you don’t have a degree and want more information, click here for information about Employ Indy.

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