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Job counselors see more optimism, interest in government

STANFORD - President Clinton's call for public and government service apparently has struck a chord with graduating students at Stanford University.

According to public service career specialist Anne Greenblatt, about a quarter of the students coming through her door lately have expressed an interest in Washington-based careers.

"There is definitely a renewed interest in going to D.C. and becoming part of the new administration," said Greenblatt, who counsels about 350 students annually at the university's Career Planning and Placement Center. "There is a real sense of excitement."

Agreed Kathleen Dunlop, who will be graduating from Stanford's master's program in international policy studies this June, "D.C. is definitely the place where I am focusing my job search.

"As one of [my professors] put it, 'New York was the place where my generation went. Washington, D.C., is where this generation is going to be headed. It's the place of opportunity.' "

Although a tough job market persists nationally, counselors at the Career Planning and Placement Center report that Stanford students are a bit more optimistic about their job searches this year, compared to last.

They also are more willing to work hard for what they want. "Students going through recruiting this year seem more determined than last year's group," said recruiting coordinator Rachel Hahn. "They know the market is tight and they are hitting it on the head."

Said Laura Dominguez, another Stanford career counselor: "Students are coming in more prepared to do the job search and to spend the necessary time to do it. We're seeing an increasing participation in employer receptions and informational sessions as part of the on-campus recruiting program."

Stanford continues to be in a fortunate position with recruiters. Although a recent Michigan State survey found that U.S. companies planned to cut their college interviews another 6 percent this year (after a 28 percent decline in 1992), the weekly average number of Stanford campus interviews rose from 544 in fall 1991 to 578 in fall 1992.

"Recruiting here is holding up well," said Ruth Schneider, director of Stanford's Career Planning and Placement Center. "Recruiters have fewer jobs available, so they have cut down on the number of campuses they visit. But Stanford continues to be a targeted school."

One particularly hot field for Stanford liberal arts students is management consulting.

"With the recession, many firms are turning to them to figure how best to do business," Hahn said.

Students also are showing increased interest in environment-related careers, health care, public health education and research, public policy, working with youth at risk, the Teach for America program, women's issues, consumer product marketing, publishing, or jobs with firms that combine business and entertainment, such as the Walt Disney company.

Engineering/technical students - wary of defense- related fields - are showing increased interest in biomedical careers, biomechanics and "management track" jobs. Software development and environmental engineering also are popular career choices.

For many students, graduate and professional study is becoming an increasingly attractive option. In fall 1990-91 the Career Planning and Placement Center sent out 2,249 reference files in support of student applications to graduate school; in fall 1992- 93 the number was 2,893.

Many other students are unsure of which path to take.

"A constant refrain is, 'I'm considering grad school and taking entrance exams, but I'm not sure if I should do that because I'm really not that interested right now in any particular program,' " said career counselor Lynn Dotson.

The solution for some is a year off in a "mindless" temporary job, or travel if they can afford it.

Academic job seekers who are just completing their doctorates may be facing the toughest job market of all - for a while, anyway.

According to Al Levin, a counselor of Stanford graduate students, the number of academic jobs listed through the bulletin board in the Chronicle of Higher Education is down 30 percent from last year, and the impact from cuts in state budgets is being felt keenly.

"Grad students in general seem to have a fairly realistic view of the difficult job market and are pursuing it in earnest," Levin said.

Stanford's Career Planning and Placement Center provides career counseling and interest inventories, a resource library, databases, job fairs, an on-campus recruiting program, workshops and reference file service for thousands of Stanford students and alumni each year.

Coming programs include the annual Public Service Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, and a Job Connection Day on Thursday, May 20, featuring prospective employers with definite job openings. Both events will be held at Tresidder Union.



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