College recruitment falls nationwide

As the economic crisis worsens, the number of on-campus job and internship interviews made available to Elis — and to college students around the country — has dropped off.

The University saw a 13 percent drop in the number of interviews taking place on campus this academic year compared to last year, Undergraduate Career Services Director Phil Jones said Thursday. Overall, the number of recruitment “schedules” — the number of UCS interview rooms reserved by employers — fell 10.7 percent, Jones said. Yale’s peer schools have seen comparable decreases in recruiting, administrators at the schools said, indicating that Ivy League students are not immune to the tightening job market.

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The drop in on-campus interviews was more pronounced for Yalies looking for summer internships than for those applying to full-time jobs.

Internship interviews fell 18.3 percent compared to last year, while the number of on-campus interviews for full-time jobs fell 10 percent in the same time frame, Jones said. Yale and other Ivy League schools were hit especially hard by the disappearance of interview opportunities at investment banks and consulting firms, two experts interviewed said.

“This is a global economic downturn,” explained Robin Mount, interim director of Harvard University’s Office of Career Services. “Everybody’s being hit across the board, whether you’re a state worker in California or a Harvard student or a Yale student.”

Yale saw an 8.8 percent drop in the number of on-campus recruiters in the fall and a 19.5 percent decrease in the spring, Jones said. Harvard posted nearly identical figures, with a 10 percent drop in campus interviews first semester and a 19 percent drop second semester, Mount said.

Stanford University and Dartmouth College have seen recruitment drops comparable to those at Yale, administrators from the two institutions said.

Some less-selective universities, however, have seen greater drops in recruiting this year, Jones explained.

“When organizations have to make choices, they’re likely to make them in our favor,” he said. “The [recruitment] drop we have seen is in our peer group. When you start to move outside our peer group … the bigger the hole gets. At Yale, you’re not insulated from the economy because there are no guarantees, but it’s better to be at a place like this.”

And even if on-campus recruitment at Yale is dropping, Yale students have more alternative routes to use when seeking a job, said Kelley Bishop, a board member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the director of career services network at Michigan State University.

“As a Yale student, you have immediate structured access to a vast alumni network,” he said. “The ability to run a job search independent of the formal recruitment program can be done much more quickly and to a greater extent by someone at Yale than by someone at Wisconsin or another big state school.”

Still, Yale students should not abandon their hopes of landing a job or summer internship: Jones said Yale students are in a unique position to use alumni connections and networking opportunities unavailable to students at most schools.

Yale wants to help its students use this advantage, Jones said, noting that UCS will host a series of 15 workshops this upcoming week geared toward sharpening resume and interview skills, as well as helping seniors find jobs in a difficult economy.

Yale is not the only school taking this approach to career advising, said Kathleen Powell, vice president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the director of career development at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. In the wake of declining on-campus recruitment, colleges across the country have been encouraging students to be more proactive when searching for jobs, she said.

“We’re all trying to figure out what is the best way for our students to land those jobs and internships,” she said. “It’s not going to be done through on-campus recruiting. It’s going to be through networking and working with alumni.”

Despite the opportunities afforded by Yale’s large alumni database, students will need to be aggressive in job searches and take better advantage of the tools offered to them, Jones said. He added that students should be wary of the idea that they can rely solely on their Yale educations to snag them a job.

“If you choose to believe it,” he said, “The outside world will disabuse you of it pretty quickly.”

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