A Publication of WTVP

The class of 2016 should see a more welcoming job market than college graduates have experienced in recent years, but competition remains stiff, especially for those who failed to hone the necessary skills.

Employers plan to hire 11 percent more graduates than in 2015, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but that doesn’t mean the outlook is equal for everyone.

Unless you graduate with significant work experience already under your belt, you are not going to be happy with the job market. For its internship program, College Works Painting hires students and trains them on the basics of business management. The students then oversee the marketing, sales, production management and customer relations of a house-painting business in their home towns. If college students can develop leadership skills and real-world business experience, it opens up enormous opportunities for them.

A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that nearly all employers prefer to hire job candidates who have some sort of work history. Also, 75 percent of employers say they prefer that work experience to be relevant, and 60 percent prefer experience gained through internships or co-operative education programs.

Students can improve their odds on the hiring front several ways, including:

But an internship works only if the student is willing to work. You need motivation, drive, ambition and dedication. Not every intern is going to be successful, but that just gives you a better chance if you are the one who’s willing to put in the extra effort. iBi

Matt Stewart is co-founder of College Works Painting (, which provides business experience for thousands of college students each year. He has received the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award from the Orange County Business Journal, and has twice been a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Award.