These are difficult times to be entering the job market. How difficult? Let's compare the prospects for three recent BYU graduates — selected randomly of course — to find out.

Ryan Maguet, Nate Ogden and Jimmer Fredette have a lot in common as they face the big world out there. They all graduated this spring from BYU — one in exercise science with a minor in Spanish, one in accounting and one in American studies with a minor in Division I basketball. Now they're all looking for jobs or about to start one.

Jimmer. 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, is applying for jobs all over the country. He seeks work as an off-guard or a point guard, and he's never met a shot he didn't like. He flies to big cities coast-to-coast, where he is wined and dined by men in Italian suits. He performs for NBA executives on a basketball court who hope to pay him a seven-figure salary to play basketball. Apparently, some people think the kid's got skills.

Ryan, 6 feet, 185 pounds, is applying for jobs, too. So far, he has submitted his resume to two hospitals in Utah, but didn't get a job offer. "It may be a little tough," he says. If there is a draft for exercise science students, he hasn't heard of it.

Nate, 6 feet, 140 pounds, took his master's degree in accounting and interviewed with firms in California and Utah, eventually accepting a job in Salt Lake City. In the accounting world, he would be about a second-round draft pick. He starts work in three weeks.

On Thursday, Jimmer will be chosen in the first round of the NBA draft by basketball businesses that want to give him a seven-figure salary to play ball for about nine months each year. But he does have summers off. The top 10 picks in the draft, which is where many expect Jimmer to be picked, receive a first-year salary of between $1.9 million and $4.4 million. If he is frugal, he'll probably be able to eke out an existence until he gets a raise his second year.

When he gets a job, Ryan expects to sign for a starting salary of $25,000 to $30,000, which is what Jimmer will earn in a week. Don't tell potential employers, but he would settle for $20,000. "I'd like to think I'd get a little more about than that," he says. Sounds like one of those spoiled NBA rookies, doesn't he?

Nate signed a deal worth $44,000 and turned down offers of $51,000 and $58,000 from California firms. Usually, the idea is to negotiate salaries UPWARD, but he decided to remain in Utah. "It's decent, but not quite what Jimmer's going to make," he says.

Jimmer has an agent to handle financial negotiations, marketing, endorsements and travel arrangements, and offer advice.

Ryan and Nate got their advice from Glenn and Brad, respectively — aka Dad.

Jimmer will play — uh, work — for a decade or more, if all goes according to plan, and then he'll retire and never have to work again.

Ryan will work for a year and then go to physical therapy school to move up the professional ladder. Nate is happy with the team he just signed with, but maybe he'll become a free agent someday.

Jimmer has prepared for the job market by playing ball for most of his life.

Ryan has prepared by attending BYU for four years with the help of his parents and government grants, and serving as a volunteer (read: unpaid) at two hospitals to build his resume for his application to PT school. He managed to hold down three jobs during his stay at BYU, as a restaurant server, a door-to-door salesman and a clothing-store salesman.

Nate paid his dues and his tuition with a summer internship with a California accounting firm and a track/cross country scholarship.

During the interview process, Jimmer answered a lot of questions about his skills, mostly with his feet and legs.

Ryan also had to answer various questions during job interviews. It was tougher than the Dallas Mavericks' defense. One question: Name 10 adjectives that describe you ("I got stuck at about five," he said. "I ended up giving them 10 but it was work." Another question: "What's in your refrigerator?" (Maybe he shouldn't have mentioned the barbecue sauce.)

Nate also had to answer some questions. During one interview, a female executive asked him, "Who do you prefer — Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah Winfrey — and why?"

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Jimmer's strengths are a long-range jumper and the ability to get inside against the bigs. Nate considers his strengths to be a Jimmer-like work ethic, organization and thriving in BYU's renowned Top 10 accounting program.

Ryan's strengths are good grades, good communication skills and the ability to get along with others — "Obviously, the qualities for an NBA player, as well," he says.

He also posted the sixth highest score in the world on an iPad game called "Tilt to Live."

Wonder if he mentioned that in the interviews?