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Job-hunting students run into recession

STANFORD -- At Stanford University's Career Planning and Placement Center, anxious seniors are packed into the center's library until closing time every night, hunting for job leads. In the Undergraduate Advising Center, more and more seniors are making counseling appointments to talk about graduate school. "It used to be that they would wait two or three years before continuing their educations," said Director Hector Cuevas. "Now they want to stay in school. The economy is a factor." In the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, many students find job prospects dimmed by cuts in defense spending and a resulting freeze on hiring at several defense-related companies. Like their counterparts across the country, Stanford students are beginning to realize that they are not immune to economic hard times. According to Ruth Schneider, director of Stanford's Career Planning and Placement Center, the number of recruiter-sponsored on-campus job interviews is showing little change from last year - 2,624 this past fall, compared with 2,710 in fall 1990-91. However, many of those recruiters have fewer jobs to offer, or are delaying their offers until late in the year. "Clearly we were in a recession at the end of last year, and we're still in it," Schneider said. "Students are anxious and concerned." The good news is that Stanford students remain a desirable commodity, and the general outlook for both technical graduates and liberal arts majors is solid - provided students do more legwork. Schneider suggests that the best places for students to look for work these days are with companies in consulting, financial services, pharmaceuticals, software development, accounting, engineering, environment-related business, and biotechnology and health services. The job openings are not always obvious, she said. "Statistics show that approximately 80 percent of all jobs are never advertised - they're referred to as 'the hidden job market,' " Schneider said, in a recent letter to parents. "These positions are frequently filled by direct referrals of family, friends, faculty, alumni or other acquaintances, as well as through networking in a variety of ways." Schneider's office is attempting to foster these kinds of contacts by developing a spring job fair and "Parent Network" to disseminate information to students about job openings in parents' companies. The career center also maintains a list of internships, to help students gain marketable experience beyond the classroom. "While not a pre-employment requirement, employers place high value on the skills and exposure provided by the internship," Schneider said. "Not infrequently, students will become full-time employees of the same or similar organizations upon graduating." -tmj-


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