Seniors have already dressed up for the Masquerade Ball, started thinking about their essays, and even attended the first of the Paul Mellon dinners. Now, they must decide whether or not they want to be working on Wall Street next year.

With the recruiting season in full swing, Undergraduate Career Services Director Philip Jones said he expects Teach for America and the Peace Corps, as well as graduate schools, to be popular choices this year because of the faltering economy. But Jones said the financial industry has also proven to be popular, with many seniors already in the midst of the interviewing process.

Jones said some students interested in financial careers have already completed second-round interviews and that 50 to 60 percent of seniors have already contacted UCS in some way. Approximately 80 to 85 percent of the senior class is expected to use UCS services this year.

“This semester there are a lot of the financial organizations — the banks and the consulting firms typically come early,” Jones said. “Those [students] who need to be very quickly out of the blocks are the ones focused on the financial industry.”

Meredith Whipple ’03 said after being largely undecided about her postgraduate plans, she decided to start interviewing with large consulting firms through the UCS on-campus interview program.

“Although religious studies is my academic passion, I came to the beginning of my senior year not knowing what at all I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so it seemed to me that consulting would give me an excellent business background,” she said. “Although people fault UCS for not being particularly helpful in other career fields, they were extremely helpful.”

Jones said in the past couple of weeks, more scientific companies and nonprofit organizations have been coming to campus. The later part of fall semester will be devoted almost entirely to nonprofit opportunities, he said.

The most difficult problem UCS faces with seniors is helping them narrow down their job possibilities, Jones said.

“The biggest fear for Yale students is closing off options — ‘If I choose this I don’t choose that,'” he said. “By and large it’s not that dramatic; by and large, it is possible to do one thing and later switch to do something else.”

Usually, seniors end up being divided evenly among three major areas — graduate and professional schools, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector, Jones said.

But with unfavorable economic conditions, Jones said he expects graduate education to be popular this year.

“There is a very close correlation between the economy being down and the number of law school applications being up,” Jones said. “Using it as a default isn’t the greatest strategy because there may be other better things that you could have done.”

UCS’s on-campus interviewing program will continue until Nov. 20, when it breaks for Thanksgiving, reading week and finals. It will start up again in January and continue until spring break, Jones said. During the spring semester, the focus will be on “just in time” hiring industries, such as publishing and smaller nonprofit organizations that do not hire large numbers of graduates every year, he said.

“The students who are focused more on those kinds of industries actually have an advantage over those who get launched into their interviews the first week of school,” Jones said. “They’ve got much more time to sort of do their homework on the companies they’re interested in.”

Joseph McGuire ’03, a cognitive science major who plans to work for a few years as a lab assistant or in theater, said going to UCS relieved his anxieties about finding a job.

“They sort of pointed out, which was reassuring, that for these kinds of jobs — I’m not interested in going into banking — that these really tend to hire within the few months before positions open up,” McGuire said. “In the spring semester would be when postings would actually come up for the summer and I’d start looking at openings.”

Jones said he expects approximately 94 percent of seniors will have jobs by next fall.