COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Emily Ko is in the midst of taking one of life's hardest tests. The USC senior who is graduating next month is trying to find her first job out of college.
I am definitely thankful I am graduating in 2011. I had a sister that graduated in 2009 and she struggled looking for a job, Ko says.
Luckily for Ko, a public relations major, and the nearly 1.7 million soon-to-be grads across the country, there are more open positions available, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Employers plan to hire 19.3 percent more grads and have half as many applicants per job now compared to this time last year.
USC Career Center director Tom Halasz confirms the trend. He says companies tell him, they're trying to meet higher workforce goals.
The difference this year is not only do they understand their needs, but those needs have increased significantly.
Halasz expects hiring to be up in most industries, but employers in technical and finance fields are among the most aggressive recruiters.
While conditions may be improving, Halasz adds finding a position will not be easy.
With about two weeks left in her final semester of school, Ko has already applied for several PR opportunities.
I think I am being optimistic, but I am also being realistic, says Ko. I am not looking for my dream job; I will take what is out there.
In this market, the most important thing job seekers can do is remain positive and try to remember as conditions improve, there are more possibilities to make a move.
Do you think new college graduates are entering a better job market than last year? Vote in our poll below and leave a comment to weigh in.