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Careers

College Grads on Top of the World

The class of 2006 is finding the best job market in half a decade.

Kirsten Lundstrom, a senior graduating from Georgia Tech, kicked off her job search with a whopping 13 interviews last fall. "I was really nervous, thinking it was going to be tough finding the kind of job I was looking for," says the 22-year-old mechanical engineer. But Lundstrom found employers pursuing her, not the other way around, often flying her to on-site interviews. She juggled three job offers, each with plenty of perks, and chose General Electric. GE's biggest selling point? Tuition help for graduate school and a two-year training program that lets her try several jobs and locales, starting with GE's security unit in Pittsfield, Maine.

Seniors are enjoying the hottest entry-level job market since before the dot-com collapse in 2001, with employers looking for 15% more new grads this year than last. Interns are cleaning up, too. Some juniors will return to school with post-graduation job offers.

Demand is pushing up starting salaries. Chemical engineers can expect an average of $56,500, up 4% over last year. Those with degrees in economics and finance are getting $45,000, up 5% from 2005. Other hot fields include accounting, education and health care.

-- Katy Marquardt