I’ve always valued the fact that I was lucky to secure a job right out of college – and never took its stability for granted. Since 2007, news headlines featured stories on how American companies, formerly global leaders in multiple industries, crumbled to the ground and were forced to let hundreds of thousands of employees off their payrolls.

Just as heart-wrenching as the job losses was the fact that the token “American dream” companies, like Lehman Brothers, Home Depot and Detroit’s Big Three (which, as a part-Michigander, was most difficult for me to see) that were the hardest-hit by the economic downturn.

To us young adults who invested time, energy, efforts and finances into obtaining a higher-level education to secure jobs for American companies such as these, our futures were left uncertain and our optimism near-nonexistent. Growing up, we were taught the importance of working hard in school and it seemed as though, at the time of the recession, that guidance was moot. Fast-forward to April 2011.

Slowly but surely, things have started looking up in the job market. Americans feel “cautiously optimistic” that their current jobs are more stable and that more opportunities will emerge in the coming months. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed our cautious optimism when it released its most recent Employment Situation Report, reporting 216,000 new jobs in the month of March alone. This shift brings the national unemployment rate to a two-year low of 8.8 percent.

Tamryn Hennessy, Rasmussen College’s national director of career development, discussed the job market’s upswing and certain sector opportunities in a segment Monday morning on FOX’s “Good Day Chicago” -- the same day McDonald’s announced it planned to fill 50,000 desirable jobs across America by executing its McJobs campaign.

What a change from the morning news we woke up to just three years ago.

Tamryn’s feedback to the Employment Situation Report isn’t something we should take lightly, nor is it something we haven’t heard before. As we learned growing up – education is the key to success. The unemployment rate for those with only a high school diploma is close to twice as high as those with a Bachelor’s degree. “Unemployment for people with Associate’s degrees or some college experience dropped half a percent over the past three months,” she explained.

So, with a combination of reassuring government data, expert guidance (like that from Tamryn), and cautious optimism, I look forward to witnessing the U.S. pull itself out of the economic recession and anxiously anticipate our American companies (and cities) rebuild and make their comebacks.

Caroline Brooks Senior Publicist