Boston Campus Recruiting Steady - For Now

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Campus recruiting in Boston doesn't appear to be dramatically impacted by the economy's recent turmoil.

Activity has been holding steady at MIT's Sloan School of Management, where the number of company presentations is down less than 1 percent, the school says. In fact, the April 15 Career Fair there was oversubscribed, attracting about 22 companies instead of the 15 that were expected, according to Jackie Wilbur, director of the school's career development office.

"There were companies this year who we hadn't heard from in a couple of years," she says. "We really didn't want to turn these companies away. We're kind of just mashing everyone in there."

About 20 percent of Sloan's MBA graduates - who last year received median salaries of $110,000 annually - are pursuing careers in finance. So far, job offer rates are on track with 2007.

Wilbur expects salaries this year to be about the same. "Unlike the last recession, we have not seen a decrease in salaries," she says. "I am happily surprised. It feels like we are on a bit of a roller-coaster right now."

MIT's experience is mirrored at other, less prestigious colleges in the region as well as other areas. However, experts caution that next year's crop of graduates may find some trouble in the job market.

Boston College saw some signs of weakness, though the number of companies recruiting undergraduates this year has remained the same. "Many of them in the financial sector were interviewing fewer students and making fewer offers," observes Marie R. Geary, associate director of the Boston College Career Center. Data on the school's MBAs wasn't immediately available.

At Boston University and The University of Massachusetts-Boston, the picture is similar. Job placements at BU's School of Management are up 20 percent this year, with many of those positions in finance, says Catherine Ahlgren, assistant dean for career services for the school.

Fidelity and State Street, along with other major Boston employers, have been on- campus. "We've not seen any pullback in offers at the full-time level," Ahlgren says, adding that there's been some "softness" in offers for internships. "We have had more employers on campus then we ever had," she says. "Students are accepting offers earlier because they know the climate is tentative."

Some students, particularly those who aspired to be in investment banking, are rethinking their career choices. "They have now shifted their focus," says Ahlgren. "They are looking at thing like corporate finance, leadership development and general management positions."

Len Konarski, director of career services at UMass-Boston, says companies may be more willing to offer internships instead of full-time jobs because of their lower costs. UMass saw a strong showing from recruiters on campus and says its upcoming fair for financial jobs should be would be well attended by local employers such as John Hancock, Putnam Investments and State Street, Konarski says.

"We probably have 20 major employers from the Boston area coming" to the career fair for both graduate and undergraduate students, Konarski says, adding his office is surprised by the turnout "given the economy. You are going to see those effects next year... It takes a while for the college (job) market to catch up to the economy."

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