College student hopeful, but realistic about future job market

Max Rodenburg, a college student from Nebraska.

Kai Ryssdal: Our coverage of jobs today has been mostly of those already in the labor force and looking for work. Max Rodenburg is on the near end of that timeline -- 20 years old, about to start his junior year at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, studying business and Spanish, as it happens. Max, good to talk to you.

Max Rodenburg: Hey thank you, good to be on.

Ryssdal: What kind of work experience do you have at the ripe old age of 20?

Rodenburg: I guess my first "big boy" job -- I guess you could call it -- I worked at a Pinnacle Bank here in Lincoln. I was sort of an office assistant, I had that when I was a senior in high school. And then when I was a freshman I got an internship with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. And this summer, I obtained my Nebraska real estate license. And for the last, little over a month, I've been a licensed realtor with Nebraska home sales here in Lincoln, Neb.

Ryssdal: Has nobody told you that this is a really bad time to be in real estate?

Rodenburg: Well, you know, actually, we've been pretty fortunate in Nebraska. We didn't get to experience the dramatic appreciation that places such as, you know, Miami and Arizona and California did. But then we got kind of lucky because we were cushioned when the bubble burst and everything was sort of spiraling downward, we only, we've gone down about 4 percent a year.

Ryssdal: So you're a junior this year, you've got two more years to figure it out. So this might be a premature question, but when you get out of school, what's the choice going to be? Are you going to get a job, or are you going to do what a lot of people are doing in the economy nowadays since they can't get jobs, and are you going to go to grad school?

Rodenburg: I still haven't decided completely. I know I do want to go to grad school. But the decision to either go to grad school right after college or work for a couple years and then go back, that's still kind of up in the air. But it's kind of great with this real estate thing, is I can do both. I've been taking classes in the morning and then I can work all afternoon and what not. And I've always liked being busy.

Ryssdal: What's the vibe though, amongst you and your friends, about prospects? When I was a junior in college I didn't talk much about jobs, but you know, the economy was a whole lot better back then.

Rodenburg: Right. Right now, the vibe I kind of get from my buddies that are graduating: a lot of them are just taking what they can get. I haven't witnessed anybody not be able to get a job at all, but I'm sure I know a few people that I could tell you they wish they could have found something a little bit better, a little bit higher paying. But I've also got a couple friends who, I've got one that's working on Wall Street right out of college. He got a signing bonus with his job, and I've got another one that's got a very good job at ConAgra right outside of college. So I would say the vibe in Nebraska is a sense of realistic hopefulness. They're hoping that they can get that job they've always dreamed of, but they've got that realistic side that they're thinking about too.

Ryssdal: Max Rodenburg. He's going to be a junior at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. School starts Monday. Max, thanks a lot.

Rodenburg: Thanks for having me Kai.

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