June 6, 2003

Fourth-years look toward future

After four years of theoretical study, many fourth-years at the University will soon be entering the real world, or at least going to graduate school.

In the face of an economic slump, graduating seniors have been racing to find jobs and internships to earn a paycheck that will make their $100,000 education seem worthwhile.

"It's a pretty strenuous process," said Chris Nosko, a fourth-year in the College. "I interviewed with seven or eight different companies, then I had to do second rounds with maybe five of them. I received several offers not long after that, and I had to decide between them quickly."

Others, like Michael Flaim, another fourth-year in the College, sent out roughly sixty applications and interviewed with nearly thirty companies.

While a good portion of students have found work, students believe, most have had to settle for the jobs they can find, not necessarily the ones that they want. Still, most feel that University students have an advantage over many other graduating seniors across the country who are having a considerably harder time finding work.

"Certainly, this school is respected by the firms that are hiring," Flaim said. "The people who go here are smart and talented, and so you have a wider range of people trying to get jobs who are just more talented than other students out there."

Some have taken jobs far away from home to take advantage of the most lucrative opportunity.  Ishaan Sighn, a fourth-year in the college, plans to travel to London to work in a financial strategies firm because he enjoys the environment and feels it will provide the best experience.

The responsibilities of the University's Career and Placement Services office (CAPS) has been highlighted in these difficult economic times, and some students have questioned the role of the office as well as its rate of success.

For Nosko, CAPS is generally too bureaucratic and inefficient to be substantially effective in and of itself, but he said that it is good at getting recruiters to come to campus and surveying University student opinion.

CAPS officials could not be reached for comment at press time.

As employers become scarcer, a lager percentage of students nationwide have been seeking refuge from the job search by applying to graduate school in the hopes that the economy will be more hopeful a few years in the future when they emerge with an advanced degree. The result is a more selective application process at both top academic institutions and their second-tier counterparts.

"Many more people are looking to enter places like law school, and its getting a lot harder to get in," Nosko said. "I have a friend who got into law school, but his numbers are way above the average for that school."

Ben Traster, a fourth-year who will be attending Georgetown next year to earn a graduate degree in public policy, thought that attending graduate school is an important decision about one's career goals.

"It just felt right," Traster said. "At some point you have to come to the realization that you can either keep studying or start looking for a job. I thought that the best thing for me was to learn more about econ and this program was the best way to do that."

Contrary to the prevailing opinion, Traster believes that entering graduate school as a means to wait until the economy improves is not as popular a strategy among his piers.

"It's a double-edged sword; if people use graduate school to put off getting a job, then more people apply and it gets more competitive," Traster said. "[Getting in is] not as easy as it seems."

There are some students who, despite their best efforts, are still searching for a viable career opportunity. Many students are seeking part-time jobs or internships over the summer months while they continue to look for work in a highly over-saturated market.

Most forecasters predict that we have reached the end of the economic slowdown, and, in the next few years, students will find it easier to acquire positions in the working world.