Prior to the economic crisis, if you talked to any broker, trader or New York Stock Exchange specialist about their profession, they would all say the same thing: “Wall Street is the BEST game in town. There is nothing else like it.”

Unfortunately, if you ask them that same question today their somber answer is: “It’s over, and there will never be anything like it again.”

Industry professionals may be coming back to the Street, but this time it’s Main Street they’re heading to as they look to reinvent their careers and put their financial skills to work. Some are selling advertising at financial trade publications, while others are putting themselves on the opposite side of the trading desk by becoming financial advisors.

Perhaps the saddest casualties of our financial crisis however, are our college graduates.  As the class of 2012 gears up to walk down the aisle of hope to accept the degree they worked so hard for, they are finding it has become more like The Yellow Brick Road to nowhere. Saddled with mounting debt and student loans, as well as a persistently bleak job market, the excitement of finding that first job is anything but.

Back in the day, many of the summer interns that worked on the floor of the NYSE never returned to High School and went on to become multi-millionaires. Today, second generation Wall Streeters are finding themselves embarking on family ventures such as sandwich shops and car washes.

Indeed, the scale of the problem became painfully clear to us here at Aspectus North America when we advertised for an intern position in our New York office last week on LinkedIn. Looking for someone to help us over the summer, with the potential of becoming a full time hire, we received almost one hundred résumés within just one day! And we came in on Monday morning to find an inbox overflowing with two hundred more sent over the weekend.

Although this number of responses should make any employer happy given there’s a better chance of finding the right hire the more applicants you review, it has really made the scale of the economic situation hit home. Prospects from the South to the Midwest got in touch with cover letters telling us why they wanted to move to the Big Apple in the hope of making big money someday. We also had graduates from Australia, London and Japan wanting to come to New York for a chance to live the American dream.

So, how do you decide? With hundreds of résumés for just one position, it can be difficult to know where even to begin.

Certainly, here at Aspectus, we do our utmost to be diligent in replying to applicants and thanking them for their interest and effort. But, with this many candidates it’s nearly impossible! However, we feel that we have a corporate responsibility to our industry and a social responsibility to help our aspiring grads, so we have decided to spend more time on this search than usual. We are reaching out to as many candidates as we can to at least have a conversation, regardless of where they live. We want to help this graduating class hone their interviewing skills and provide them a glimmer of hope that that dream job will come.

At the same time, we would also like to take this opportunity to remind the class of 2012 to keep at it and not give up on their goals.

Public Relations is a fantastic field where the possibilities are endless. No two days are the same and this is truly an industry where you are always learning and always challenged. We may not be able to hire you all today, but we do ask that you don’t turn your back on this industry because you aren’t able to find a job right away. Stick with it and good things will come.

It takes persistence and positivity to weather the storm of the overwhelming job search today and remember, these are two of the most valuable traits for successful PR professionals, so start putting those skills to work now!

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