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Tough Period Looms for MBA Job-Seekers

Despite an "upbeat message" from banks' campus recruiters, "career services directors are looking at the recruiting landscape with a skeptical eye," BusinessWeek reports. They fear that many banks will either cancel on-campus interviews slated for January-February, or slash hiring goals at the last minute.

That's also the view of Wall Street consultant Alan Johnson. "I think when all is said and done they're going to hire a lot less," Johnson told eFC in an interview. "Most firms don't want to say that publicly at this point. Several firms are telling us they're being much more cautious than they would be in a different setting. MBA hiring is going to be down significantly." He adds that banks lose nothing by giving interviews now, but can hold off on making offers.

Jonathan Masland, an official at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, outlined a ripple effect that may curtail campus job offers. Private equity firms are hiring fewer analysts from banks, Masland told BusinessWeek. That leaves fewer full-time openings for MBAs within the banks. He explained: "some of these (openings) are now being filled by the promotion of an analyst into an associate role, where in the past these people left and went to private equity firms."

Widespread Signs of a Pullback

The story also quotes Tulane's business school Career Management Director Edmund Hughes saying, "there are warnings on the horizon." The number of offers in structured finance and real estate is sure to shrink, and Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank recently canceled second-year MBA recruiting events at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus. One Carnegie Mellon student who got no offers thus far is looking afield, interviewing at pharmaceutical and technology firms as well as banks. University of Rochester career official Patricia Phillips worried that an institution might hire 10 interns instead of 20, or one instead of three.

"Still, recruiters in the financial services industry - at least for now - said they are proceeding as usual with their plans to hire MBA students for internships and summer jobs," BusinessWeek says. Even Bear Stearns, which last week announced 300 layoffs from various departments, told the magazine it's moving forward with campus interviews and hiring.

In response, students are playing it safe. Many of those who got job offers where they worked as interns last summer are accepting early. That, too, may be generating a ripple effect, compressing the number of full-time openings that remain for students interviewing on campuses. And on the flip side, Karin Ash of Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management said some bank recruiters "found themselves sitting in empty interview rooms," because so many Cornell students "have offers and are not interviewing."

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