The economy today is a far cry from where it stood just a few years ago when college graduates were getting sign-on bonuses and benefits right out of school.
Just last month, the national unemployment rate rose to six percent, the highest it's been in nine years. The slowing economy has left many job hunters discouraged, while those on the hiring end are standing in an endless pool of qualified applicants.
Jonathan Stone, 26 years old, is one such applicant. The recent college graduate has a finance degree and is working one of Target's busiest shopping seasons to make ends meet.
"It's a great place to work," he says. "It's not where I thought I'd end up. It's just temporary, until I find something else." Stone's stint as a Target cashier ends in January.
"I figured when I graduated from college in May that I would have a job," he says. "I was hoping and praying that I would, but it just didn't turn out that way."
Target personnel manager Debbie Bancook says Jonathan is not a rare case. A few years ago, she remembers having a hard time finding job applicants. Today, she has a stack of qualified applicants on her desk.
"We have 50 to a 100 applicants a day," she says. "They have MBA's, bachelor's degrees and business degrees. We're happy to get them, but we feel really bad because they're not getting the jobs that they want."
Although Target is not what Jonathan expected right out of college, he says he's learned a lesson no college course can teach.
"When I get a job in my field, I will know the value of that job and how hard it is to get."