Job Recruiting Slows On College Campuses

Because of the economic downturn, this year may be one of the hardest for graduating seniors trying to find jobs in their field. Many big employers have suspended their recruiting efforts on college campuses. Some recent graduates have already been laid off and are returning to their campus career centers for additional placement help.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On many college campuses corporate recruiting fairs are a staple of the fall semester that's ending now. Not this year. Youth Radio's Alana Germany is a student at the University of Southern California, and she says no one is feeling very confident about job prospects right now.

Ms. ALANA GERMANY (Student, University of Southern California): One of my roommates is a business major. So when the whole financial meltdown began to unfold, we sat around the tube anxiously watching CNN. Every day Anderson Cooper delivered one piece of devastating news after another. My friend would freak out and so would I. But we're just college sophomores, the economic crisis has been even scarier for seniors.

Mr. TONY JUSENAVITCH(ph) (Student, University of Southern California): I remember actually in one of my classes we were discussing Lehman Brothers, and even in that class everybody was like, well, you know Lehman is too big. The government's not going to let that fail, it would be too big of a deal.

Ms. GERMANY: That's Tony Jusenavitch, a senior at USC, the University of Southern California.

Mr. JUSENAVITCH: And that very weekend is when they declared bankruptcy. And the first thing I thought of, you know, about myself was that, oh man, this is going to make it a lot harder to get a job.

Ms. GERMANY: And that's what a lot of students are thinking these days, even those not considering careers in finance, and they're probably right. At elite universities across the country, including mine, job recruitment is starting to drop. But Ilene Cohen(ph), the director of USC's college career center says that right now it's limited to certain industries.

Ms. ILENE COHEN (Director, Career Planning & Placement Center, University of Southern California): I think what we've seen is in the sectors you'd expect, so financial services, the automotive industry we've seen employers who did not come to campus this fall.

Ms. GERMANY: It's not as bad as it sounds, yet. But at NYU, UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania, and USC campus career centers expect that recruiting might be worse in the spring. And right now, the USC career center is hearing from many laid-off graduates.

The last drop in recruitment was after September 11th, but even then it took some time before the downturn impacted college campuses. Faced with this stark reality, a lot of students in my university are making sure they're being practical about the situation. Here's Tony Jusenavitch again.

Mr. JUSENAVITCH: A lot of people are pursuing other options. I know a lot of people have done things like applied for Teach for America. A couple of my friends are coming back to get a masters, or even I know one guy who's staying in college for a little while longer. Some people are talking about maybe trying to get another internship over the summer and then hopefully doing well and leveraging that into a full-time offer at the end of the summer.

Ms. GERMANY: And internships are not a bad idea, according to the director of USC's career center, Ilene Cohen.

Ms. COHEN: Internships are strong. We have probably a record number of listings for internships. So internships have kind of replaced on-campus recruiting in some ways, as sort of that three month interview to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skill set.

Ms. GERMANY: But for college students like Adriana Smith, a senior graduating from USC this month, jobs are the goal, not internships. So Adriana's solution was to cast a very wide net.

Mr. ADRIANA SMITH (Student, University of Southern California): I probably applied to neighborhood of like 50 different applications.

Ms. GERMANY: Adriana has received job offers in consulting and evaluation, neither of these careers were her first choice, but as companies are cutting jobs, recent college grads might have to take what they can get.

WERTHEIMER: Alana Germany attends the University of Southern California. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio. You're listening to Morning Edition from NPR News.

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