Campus Hiring Is Dodging the Bullet - For Now

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Bottom-line losses and scattered layoffs don't seem to be denting Wall Street's aggressive campus hiring plans.

That's the thrust of a recent BusinessWeek story based on comments from business school career services officials and in-house recruiters at investment banks.

"The number of companies making offers is up, and that's a good sign to us," Kenneth Keeley, executive director of the career opportunities center at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, told the magazine. Almost 78 percent of second-year MBA students at Carnegie Mellon had job offers by Jan. 21 - about 10 percent more than at this time last year. Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have held on-campus interviews there recently.

Last fall, an MBA Career Services Council survey of 85 business schools found overall recruiting activity rose 20 percent and on-campus recruiting rose 14.9 percent compared with the previous year. That poll also found base salaries offered to the class of 2007 rose 5.5 percent on average while signing bonuses averaged 8.8 percent higher than a year earlier. For undergraduates, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers released last November revealed a 16 percent jump in hiring plans for graduates for the current, 2007-08 academic year.

Recruiters Haven't Stopped Coming

The economy's impact on the MBA job market won't be fully known until next fall, when banks decide how many offers to give to their summer interns. But although employers could suddenly clear out en masse, and student job-seekers have been nervous ever since last summer when the bull market began to fray, Wall Street is sticking to its guns so far.

"Recruiters haven't stopped coming to campus to interview for summer internship jobs," says BusinessWeek. "Meanwhile, second-year (MBA) students looking for full-time jobs appear to be doing as well as, if not better than, their counterparts last year, with many schools reporting increased recruiting, more job offers, and higher salaries for this year's grads."

Still, in the current climate of uncertainty, officials urge students to be more pro-active than usual about securing a job or internship. Tom Kozicki, board president of the MBA Career Services Council and head of career services for University of California, Irvine's business school, recommends "attacking the market aggressively," rather than "wait on the sidelines and hope for something to be delivered" by your business school.

Merrill Lynch said it plans to hire 170 - 180 summer interns globally in 2008, down from 190 last year. But Sarah Quarterman, Merrill's campus recruiting head, told the magazine that the industry has learned it's unwise to slash campus hiring due to market conditions. "The people we hire this year are going to be the VPs of three or four years' time, so if we don't hire them now, we'll have a talent shortage," she said. Bank of America, despite announcing layoffs and retrenching from some business lines, is likewise "still an active participant in MBA campus recruiting," BusinessWeek says.

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