It's the first day of classes at Wichita State University. And for seniors it means the clock is ticking before they enter the cruel job market.
"If I wasn't doing internships here at Wichita State, I would be incredibly nervous," said Nic Wentling.
The mechanical engineering student just finished a paid summer internship at Cessna and is confident the plane maker will hire him after graduation in 2014.
"They want me to graduate even earlier so I can come back and assist them," said Wentling.
But not every student's future is mapped out so clearly. A survey cited by the Wichita Eagle showed 4 out of every 10 WSU graduates last year had no job six months after earning a degree.
Nationally, a survey of employers shows companies expect to hire 10-percent more college grads in 2012, compared to last year.
While that's encouraging news, there is still a lot of competition in the workforce. Experts say students need to be gaining the experience to set themselves apart.
"Employers aren't ready to hire full-time. But they are looking for college students to come in and work for them part-time as a co-op or an intern," said Connie Dietz, Director of co-op education at WSU.
Her office placed about a thousand internships last school year and Dietz expects to place more this year. She said hot areas continue to be the engineering and accounting fields.
About a third of college grads will leave school with a co-op or internship on their resume. And as Dietz tells students, "Which group do you want to be in?"
Dietz said an internship isn't a guarantee you'll be hired, but it certainly helps. It gives employers a chance to gauge a student's work ethic and see if they'll be a good fit.