Despite tech's demand for talent, new graduates aren't immune from the need to showcase their skills, particularly since companies maintain strong requirements for candidates.
"There are few positions that are true entry-level positions," Zafarino says. A listing for an entry-level software engineer might specify two years of experience, for example. "It's a challenge for [new graduates], but if you come from a good program, people are more willing to take a chance, expecting that you're going to be able to perform."
New graduates who have gained practical experience while still in school have an advantage. "Some [graduates] do have experience coming out of school, which is very attractive. Once a client gets a hold of that, they want more of that. That's their expectation," Zafarino says.
It's not just about internships, he notes. Some students have done freelance or contract work while in school.
GitHub is another way for new graduates to demonstrate their abilities and commitment to the computer-science craft. Prospective employers can see how active a candidate is on GitHub, check out the quality of the work, and even set up tests through GitHub. "Though you may not have the work experience, you have created something that people can see, and it's proof of what you can do and what you have done," Zafarino says. "A lot of clients look into that. You want the developer that's passionate."
Meanwhile, in the bigger picture (not just tech), the jobs outlook for 2016 graduates across all majors is solid, if not quite as rosy as it was six months ago.
Employers expect to hire 5.2% more new graduates from the class of 2016 than they did in 2015, according to NACE. The projections, while positive, are less bullish than they were last fall, when respondents to NACE's twice-yearly Job Outlook survey predicted an 11% increase in hiring of new graduates.
Additionally, some 67% of employers told CareerBuilder they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 65% last year and the highest percentage since 2007, according to the jobs website. Entry-level pay is increasing, the survey finds: 37% of employers plan to offer higher starting salaries to recent college graduates than they did last year, and 28% will pay $50,000 or more.
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