Career Development Center Runs Tough Economy Series

By Deborah Liverman, Assistant Director, Global Education and Career Development Center

The Economy and College Student Job Prospects

Many of us know firsthand of how the economy has impacted job opportunities. We’ve had family members or friends who have been laid off from their jobs and have difficulties finding new opportunities. And while MIT students are busy with problem sets and other school work, they too are aware of how the economy has affected the college job market and their career plans.

The Career Development Center (CDC) sent out a short survey asking students’ opinion on the economy’s impact on career plans. Over 200 students responded and shared the following information (students could select more than one effect):

  • 19.8% chose to enter a different field than they were originally considering
  • 16% felt pressured to take a job because of limited opportunities
  • 13% indicated that their job offer has been changed or rescinded
  • 10% indicated that they could not negotiate their job offer or they were offered a job offer below average salaries

Additional anecdotal information from our counselors have revealed that students are looking more broadly for jobs, more students are applying to graduate school as an option after graduation, students are having to adjust salary expectations, and students are more open to networking with alums and industry professionals.

In a special message to students in April 3rd’s The Tech, the CDC’s Executive Director Melanie Parker noted the following from multiple sources:

  • Employers expect to hire 22% fewer new graduates from the Class of 2009 than they did last year.
  • Hiring expectations have declined from nearly all industrial sectors, with the exception of federal government agencies and some companies from the logistics, transportation and utilities sector.
  • All U.S. regions are reporting declines in college hiring, with the Northeast (down 40%) and the West (down 32%) with the most losses.
  • Forty-six percent of employers surveyed reported uncertainty respondents about hiring goals for the Class of 2010, while only one-third of responding employers project that they will hire the same amount or more graduates as this year.
  • A review of MIT recruiting activity for this academic year shows nearly a 30% decline in on-campus interviews compared to 2007-08.

Despite this negative snapshot, it is important to note that this job market is challenging but not impenetrable and MIT students offer special skill sets that is valued by employers worldwide.

The CDC’s Tough Economy Series

To help MIT students navigate the job market and maintain their competitive edge, the Career Development Center has coordinated special events and programs to assist students called the Tough Economy Series. This series included tailored workshops on resume writing, interviewing, creative job and internship searching, and negotiating job offers. Two special programs were also offered included a seminar by Sloan Professor Howard Anderson on “Getting a Great Job in a Tough Economy” and a Town Hall Meeting by the CDC’s Executive Director Melanie Parker on the “State of the College Job Market”. The series ended on Tuesday April 28th with the Spring Career Fair where employers from over 40 companies registered looking to meet students and hire internship and full-time positions.

As you come across students who are still seeking career opportunities or those who are concerned about the economy’s effect on their career plans, be sure to send them to the Career Development Center to talk with one of our staff members or attend one of our programs. To read more about the economy’s affect on the college job market, please visit http://web.mit.edu/career/www/temp/economy.html.