September 2, 2008

C.U. Helps Students Find Jobs During Downturn

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The slow economy has hit higher education head on, and Cornell’s graduate and undergraduate colleges are responding with full force.
The Johnson School of Management held consulting, marketing and finance career events over the summer to make the internship and job search process easier for first-year business students this fall semester.
“The students returning to campus and the incoming class will most likely face a more challenging job market than we have experienced in the last few years,” said Karin Ash, director of the school’s career management center.
“For students to be successful in this market, especially students who are desiring a job function or an industry change, they need to be very focused and persuasive in their presentation to employers,” she said.
According to Randy Allen, associate dean of corporate relations at the Johnson school, the job market has been down around 3 to 5 percent and will continue to be difficult, especially in the financial sector, as a result of the ongoing credit crisis. Companies respond to the slower economy by cutting back.
“Before [first year students] come to campus and become buried in orientation and core courses, they should take some time to think about what careers they’re interested in and research those careers,” Allen said.
“The events are absolutely beneficial because [after attending one] I came into the business school very focused, whereas some of my peers were not as focused,” said Stacie Palmer, a second year MBA student.
Cornell Law School also helps its students seek employment. According to John DeRosa, assistant dean for Student and Career Services, the law school’s Career Services office offers individualized counseling as well as a series of programs in which practicing attorneys come to the law school to provide real-world insight into the state of the market.
DeRosa stated in an e-mail that Cornell students “need to be particularly vigilant when it comes to the relative health of the firm and/or area of practice they choose. While we are not seeing troubling data across the board, there are certainly specific firms which are far less healthy than they used to be.”
Overall, however, DeRosa believes that the most noticeable change for the legal job market exists in the type of work that new lawyers are able to do, not in whether they have a job.
“The legal job market is extremely multi-faceted,” he explained. “The impact of the economic downturn on placement [of law undergraduates] has been minimal to date.”
97 percent of the law school’s graduating class was employed at graduation, which is typical for Cornell Law School.
Recent graduates are also feeling the sting of the recent downturn in the job market.
Daniel Baer ’08 graduated in May with a major in applied economics and management. Regarding the job market, Baer explained, “There are lots of jobs available, but the hardest part is getting human contact. You can sit there and submit resumes for hours, but can’t get anyone on the phone.”
In evaluating Cornell’s undergraduate Career Services, Baer felt that they could better diversify the companies that come to campus to recruit AEM majors, and not focus as exclusively on consulting and finance.
Overall, he said, “[Cornell] did a nice job with resume critiques and making things available, but you have to find your way through them.”
According to David Kiferbaum ’08, who graduated with a major in government, the current job market had a significant impact on his decision to go straight to law school. “Entering law school [will] only become more difficult over the next few years,” he said, “as more people struggling to enter the job market will either get more advanced degrees, or [will] go after being laid off and unable to find a new position.”
This fall, Kiferbaum will be attending the University of Illinois College of Law.
The current state of the economy was not a challenge for Sloane Frost ’08, however, who graduated with a degree in policy analysis and management. She will be working for AmeriCorps’ City Year, a program in which corps members serve as tutors, mentors and role models in communities throughout the country.
“The economy wasn’t really an issue for me,” she explained, since “volunteering better suits me, and unfortunately there are always jobs for that.”
However, Frost stated in an e-mail that “Cornell Career Services in Barnes wasn’t that great for me.”
She said she felt overwhelmed with pamphlets and would have preferred open group slots rather than scheduling individual appointments.
Still, both Kiferbaum and Frost noted that, for the student who seeks them, Cornell provides ample opportunities for direction and guidance in the job-search process.
Kiferbaum stated in an e-mail, “Cornell certainly offers the services to get ahead in the job market, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them and seek out the advice.”
Frost said, “There were some counselors in the Human Ecology [career services] office, and they were really helpful for me. They pointed me toward the AlumNet and some other resources, so that was really great.”
And considering today’s slumping housing market, she added, “I only wish they could help me find housing.”