Depending on which recent report you read, the job outlook for new college graduates is either still bleak or marginally improving. One thing that helps students get jobs after graduation is working in their field while they are still in school, according to a reporting project by Iowa student journalists posted Sunday on IowaWatch.org.

An April 23 study by CareerBuilder.com said 53 percent of employers plan to hire college graduates this spring, which is about the same as last year but up from 46 percent two years ago. Graduates in information technology and financial fields are most in demand, according to the report published by CareerBuilder.

Last week, an annual hiring report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) said employers predict that they will hire about 2.1 percent more college graduates in the coming year. That would be marginally good news, if they hadn't predicted last fall that their hiring would increase by 13 percent.

The same organization reported that about 55 percent of the class of 2012 had some internship experience before they graduated, which is up from 52 percent the previous year. 

The Iowa college journalists interviewed several graduating seniors and found their stories mirrored key findings of NACE's studies: Paid internships trump unpaid internships in terms of marketability, and students who took full advantage of their college's career center did better than those who did not use the career center.

Forbes.com compiled a list of the national companies hiring the most college graduates, but the jobs aren't necessarily what most graduates are hoping for. Topping the list: Verizon Wireless, 10,500 projected entry-level hires; Enterprise Rent-a-Car, 8,000 projected entry-level hires; Hewlett-Packard Co., 5,067 entry-level hires; Teach for America, 4,500 entry-level hires; and Peace Corps, 4,140 entry-level hires, round out the top five.