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By Caitlin O’Toole
June 16, 2009 09:12am

A YEAR ago, accounting and mining engineering students would be fielding two or three job offers halfway through their final year.

Now, they can’t afford to be choosy, and count themselves lucky to get a single offer.

Graduate Careers Australia research manager Bruce Guthrie said the economic uncertainty takes the shine off industries hit hard by the downturn, like formerly ‘hot jobs’ in mining and finance.

“A lot of employers have just been holding back a little bit, waiting to get some firm idea about what the rest of the year will bring,” said Mr Guthrie.

“Some employers decided maybe to be a little more prudent and either decided to delay hiring, or pay people and say ‘sorry we’ll withdraw the offer’.”

WHAT has your experience been of the graduate job market? Tell us below.

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Uni grad beats credit crisis with 50 jobs, 16 Mar 2009 Even accountants, which formerly moaned about a skills shortage, are cutting back. ‘Big four’ firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers offered graduates $4000 to delay their start date, and Ernst & Young postponed graduate start dates.

Almost 70 per cent of graduates expect it will be hard to get a position because of the economy, according to a CareerOne survey. And almost half of grads aren’t working in the field they studied.

As architecture and building, accounting, engineering and business graduate programs mirror the economy, the less glamorous careers will hold up, predicts Mr Guthrie.

“Commonly those are areas in the teaching, health sciences areas, where demand for employees isn’t governed by the economy,” he said.

Headlines about layoffs and fewer graduate spots in the private sector mean graduates are turning to public service, where competition for graduate spots has jumped.

Applications for the Australian Tax Office’s graduate program, with its $49,000 starting salary and 15.4 per cent super, jumped from 1701 to 5312 applicants this year, most with tax, accounting, law or economics degrees.

Employers attending careers fairs have fallen 15 per cent, said Dawn White, president of The National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (NAGCAS).

But having to fight hard to get a job could have a silver lining, as fewer grads fall into the formerly ‘safe’ career options of law, finance or accounting and think seriously about what they really want to do with their lives, she said.

Although investment banks are still recruiting on campuses, fewer students are showing up for their information sessions, said Ms White.

Students are now less likely to enter banking just to keep their parents happy, even though there are still jobs and even signing bonuses on offer.

“You read in the paper of a company cutting jobs, and then they ring up the next day and want to recruit grads,” said Ms White.

‘Hot jobs’ like IT or banking are just trends, and students are better off thinking carefully about what they really want to do, she said.

Recessions push people to make a more conscious career choice and think about what they are good at and what they really enjoy, because the ‘safe’ career track is gone, said Ms White.

“It might have made people realise there aren’t any specific safe industries, so it’s more important to do something you enjoy and gain transferable skills.”

“It’s forcing students to have a look at their priorities and their reasons for getting into things,” said Ms White.,27753,25643410-5012426,00.html

by John Zappe
Feb 24, 2009, 5:00 am ET
While you digest the consequences of eliminating your college recruiting consider one of the benefits of maintaining — or starting — an internship program: You’ll have an uncrowded pool to swim in.

Steven Rothberg
As you might already suspect, internship opportunities for college students this year have been severely curtailed. Numbers are hard to come by since many internships are informal or are called something else. However, Steven Rothberg, founder and president of tells us his site has about 10,000 jobs categorized as internships, which is half what it was a year ago.

“The number and quality of internship opportunities are significantly down this year over last,” says Rothberg, noting that it appears the majority of those available are unpaid. Again, no hard numbers on paid vs. unpaid internships — “that’s impossible to track,” he says — but from his conversations with employers, “They are either eliminating the program entirely or they’re eliminating the compensation.”

This comes at a time when the competition for what used to be called summer jobs has rarely been keener. Because companies across the U.S. have been retrenching, this spring’s crop of graduating seniors will face a tight job market. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) issued in October showed employers expected to hire the same or fewer students than they did last year.

“Overall, hiring looks flat for now and some employers are indicating some movement to cut back,” Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, said when the report was issued. “In August, approximately one-third of employers said they were going to trim their college hiring; in our current poll, however, 52 percent said they were going to adjust their college hiring downward.”

Now, four months later, that projection looks almost optimistic. Thus graduating seniors who would have entered the labor force in years past will now be competing with juniors and sophomores for internships, says Rothberg.

“This Spring’s going to find a lot of college seniors taking unpaid positions,” he told us. “If they can’t get a paying job, they’ll be looking for the experience for their resume.”

Richard Bottner
Richard Bottner, founder and president of Intern Bridge, a consultancy that helps SMBs develop and administer internship programs, tells us, “This is a year unlike any other year.” He’s referring not only to the scramble for jobs by college students, but to the opportunities for recruiters.

“Recruiters have a bigger advantage this year than in any other year that my generation has experienced,” says the 24-year-old. “It used to be more balanced” between internships available and the students seeking them, he explains. Now, “recruiters will find it easier to find better talent. There’s a lot more competition out there for every internship.”

He laments the conversion of paying positions to unpaid because it takes out of contention students who simply must earn money for school. On the other hand, Bottner says it makes even the low-paying positions far more attractive.

“This is a year that many of the smaller companies should be able to compete for really top talent, if they don’t cut out the pay,” says Bottner, who has been advising the small and medium sized businesses he focuses on to “pay what they can, but pay.”

Though Rothberg’s view is that it is better to offer an unpaid internship than none at all, he, too, says recruiters with paying jobs should brace for the onslaught of applications. “They’ll have their pick,” he says, even if their company isn’t one of the big names.

His advice to students is to take a job “any job and then intern part-time.” Even fast food jobs, Rothberg suspects, will look better and better to college students as the end of semester nears. “Any job that is associated with a paycheck will be a cool job,” he predicts and most students “would rather get the experience than nothing at all.”

Both men do agree on this: Companies that hire interns now will be better positioned for the eventual recovery. Says Bottner, if the internship is well structured, something Intern Bridge can help ensure, then “the student the company hires and who gets something valuable from the experience is going to be a prime prospect later on.”