Messan Agbossoumonde has already overcome more challenges than most people see in a lifetime. After his family left the African nation of Togo as refugees they settled in Syracuse. Messan graduated from Fowler High School and with help from On Point, a program that helps prepare low income students for college and employment, he went on to St. Lawrence university and graduated in just three years. Despite his impressive resume and accomplishments, he's still looking for work.
The job market is showing gradual signs of improvement. The Labor Department says private companies added 212,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate went from 8.7% in November to 8.5% in December.
For those who are looking for work, the numbers aren't providing much relief. Recent college graduates in the Syracuse area were looking to make connections on Friday at a job fair organized by On Point at Onondaga County Community College.
Whitney Bell graduated from OCC in 2007 but is still looking for a full time job in social work. She's staying optimistic and was hopeful some of the information she gathered at the job fair could lead to a position.
"If you hang in there, you'll luck out. they're out there," said Bell.
While many companies say the economy is getting better, they also say hiring may be slow to improve. Job seekers may need to be prepared for some bumps in the road.
Many companies at the fair only had openings for part time or seasonal positions right now. Recruiters said job seekers need to be persistent and take every opportunity to network - since even short conversations could lead to job opportunities down the road
"If you think about the impression you're making on people, your demeanor, your attitude, your approach to individuals, that's all networking. and you never really get a second chance to make a first impression," said Anthony Kumiega from the Bank of New York.
After giving his resume to several companies, Messan Agbossoumonde said the work ethic that has already taken him so far will help eventually him find a job.
"Right now it's frustrating and very disappointing but I know later on it will be worth it," said Agbossoumonde