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Job outlook bright

No doubt considered a rite of passage by many alumni, pounding the pavement in search of a full-time job may seem passé to today’s College grads: The recruiters just keep coming to them.

“1998 continues to be a very hot job market for graduating seniors,” says Robert Riesman, AM’88, director of the University’s Career and Placement Services office (CAPS). “They’re taking advantage of a healthy economy and employers who are keenly interested in hiring U of C graduates. Employers tell us they like U of C grads because they are comfortable working in a variety of disciplines, have strong writing skills, have a high work ethic, and are good problem solvers.”

The attention received by U of C students reflects national trends. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that an increase of nearly 30 percent in the number of job openings, and pay boosts as high as 5 percent, await this year’s college grads.

Riesman says the University has seen an accompanying increase in on-campus interviews, conducted mostly by recruiters from management consulting, investment banking, financial services, and information technology companies. While the number of recruiters who came to campus this year—190—is consistent with last year, the number of interviews conducted on campus, he notes, grew 16 percent to 4,000 during the 1997–98 academic year.

“This is important because it shows an increase in the number of opportunities a graduating senior has had to meet with someone in a position to make a hiring recommendation,” says Riesman. “We’ve also heard from students that they’re getting signing bonuses and multiple job offers.”

Based on the strength of the job market, Riesman says he expects the results of surveys of this year’s graduating seniors to show that more of them found jobs faster than members of the class of 1996, the most recent year for which figures are available. At the time of graduation that year, he says, 10 percent of seniors planned to travel, volunteer, or pursue temporary work or other goals; 35 percent were headed to graduate school or other professional programs; and 55 percent were hunting for or had found full-time jobs. Within six months, 80 percent of that group reported that they had secured employment.

To help students keep pace with the market, CAPS introduced several new programs this past academic year, all of which relied heavily on alumni participation.

“Every program alumni participate in has been improved by their involvement,” says Riesman. “We hope to increase opportunities for them to provide guidance.”

CAPS has nearly doubled the number of paid internships that it jointly sponsors with the College from 18 last year to more than 30 this year, with plans for 50 in 1998–99. The internships, primarily offered during the summer, have included jobs with the Smithsonian Institution, Illinois U.S. senators’ offices, the Joffrey Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic. Among other participating alumni, Lisa Anne Boulden, AB’91, AM’92, City of Chicago’s assistant to the mayor for programs, helped set up an intern post in the mayor’s office, while Byron Trott, AB’81, MBA’82, managing director at Goldman Sachs & Co. in Chicago, arranged for internships at his company and others.

In April, CAPS held its first Shadow Day, designed to let College students learn about the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of alumni working in fields the students want to explore. Thirty students were paired with 30 Chicago-area alumni in fields such as law, medicine, journalism, and video-game design. Similarly, January’s Taking the Next Step conference, geared to third-years, brought nearly 200 undergrads together with about 50 alumni for a day of career-planning seminars.

Next year, in addition to expanding each of these programs, Riesman says CAPS plans to host forums in which College students who have successfully competed for internships can share with their peers what helped them to get the positions and make the most of them.

For current students anticipating their postgraduate life, Riesman reminds them that some things never change: “Identify what your interests are and be enterprising in pursuing opportunities in those fields. Be an active learner in a summer job or internship.”—C.S.

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