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For the Class of 2009, 56 percent of students have obtained full-time employment, marking a drop from 2008. See an interactive graph of seniors' post-graduation plans over the past five years.

After a six-month job search applying to a range of positions, 2009 College alumna Sarah Seligman is now happily employed, conducting schizophrenia research for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

"I'm thrilled with [the job]," Seligman, a former Biological Basis of Behavior major, said. "It was a frustrating process, but I couldn't be happier now."

Despite the hurdles the economic downturn inflicted on recent graduates searching for jobs, Seligman is in the majority of members of the Class of 2009 who are employed full time, according to preliminary data received by Penn's Career Services.

Incoming numbers show that more than half of the Class of 2009 is now employed full time. But they may not reveal other recession-driven challenges faced by students, such as not getting their first-choice positions or receiving offers later than usual.

Of the 1,907 who responded to Career Services' survey by Sept. 8, 2009, 56 percent of the most recent graduating class is employed full time and an additional 2 percent is employed part time. Fifteen percent of survey respondents for the Class of 2009 are seeking employment.

While most found jobs, the percentage of 2009 graduates still seeking employment is higher than the percentage of 2008 graduates looking for jobs as of last fall. It should be noted, however, that the 2009 data is preliminary and will not be finalized for another one to two months.

Career Services' final survey results for the Class of 2008 - which were completed in October for Wharton graduates and November for alumni of the remaining schools - found that 68 percent of the 2,111 respondents were employed full time, with only 9 percent still searching.

Career Services director Patricia Rose believes that the data for the Class of 2009 will become "comparable" to the statistics for the Class of 2008 when the survey for the most recent graduating class is closed later in the fall.

Career Services will re-survey the members of the Class of 2009 who responded that they are still seeking employment before the data is finalized, Rose said. After additional data collection, Rose estimates to see an additional 3 to 4 percent of the recent graduates with jobs.

Rose added that she is satisfied with how Penn graduates fared in the worst job market she had seen in many years. "Lots of our students got jobs last year," she said.

Because of the economic climate, however, Rose noted that many people probably did not get their first-choice job and that people tended to get their offers later in the cycle than people did in previous years.

And while Rose said she did not personally know of Penn graduates taking unpaid internships, she was sure it was happening, and she suspected that some graduates took unpaid internships over the summer in hopes of turning the internships into paid positions.

Such was the case for 2009 Engineering alumna Maddy Yasner. After taking three unpaid internships in the film industry over the summer, Yasner got a part-time paid position working for a film post-production company, which she supplements by also teaching Hebrew School.

While she knew it would be difficult to find a job in the film industry, Yasner, who majored in Digital Media Design, said she didn't expect she would have to work for free for a while.

Ultimately, Yasner said she is happy with the flexibility of her current job, which could potentially become full time and which she could leave easily if she found a better offer.

But for recent Penn graduates who are unemployed, the ongoing search and lack of a job are frustrating.

Sasha Silcox, who graduated from Penn in 2008 and will complete a Master's degree in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art in October, has applied to over 100 jobs in non-profit arts fundraising and marketing with no luck. She even once received an offer only to hear a week later that the company was unable to finance the position through the end of the year.

"It's been hard to stay motivated," Silcox, the sister of Daily Pennsylvanian reporter Cal Silcox, wrote in an e-mail. "I remind myself that I'm also not done with school yet, so I'm working on my thesis to stay busy."

For recent graduates who are still unemployed, Rose said she recommends focusing on what they most want in a job, network, look for a part-time job, work out and consider doing a one- or two-year service program.

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