More than 1000 students and faculty members yesterday stopped by an informal, convention-style Career Forum, the first ever at Harvard, to browse from table to table checking out career opportunities in 35 governmental public sector, and business organizations.
Recruiters from these 35 firms set up tables and small exhibits and piles of brochures in Memorial Hall and chatted comfortably with nervous students. At 4 p.m. Office of Career Services (OCS) officials, who organized the Career Forum, feted the company reps with wine, fancy hors d'oeuvres, and brie cheese.
The OCS had invited about 200 organizations said Counselor for Communications John Noble '75, who cited "cutbacks in the budgets for recruiting" and a cable television convention the same day as the two biggest reasons for the disappointing turnout. Even most of the 109 business which recruit regularly through the OCS declined the invitation.
Among the organizations present, exhibits varied in intensity from IBM's six pinstriped recruiters and multi-colored charts to Filene's empty table with no representatives Nevertheless, business boomed. "I've been talking about 75 to 80 percent of the time." Michael LaScaleia '81 of Arthur Andersen & Co. said hoarsely late in the afternoon.
Student interest in business has "surged" over the last decade, Martha P. Leape. OCS Director, said yesterday. Thirty-five percent of the Class of '82 attended on-campus recruiting sessions last year, up from 20 percent the year before. "Back in '69, '70 and '71.3 and 4 percent of the graduating class would say they were interested in business," Leape said.
The rise in corporate popularity dictated new tactics by the OCS, Leape said, adding that the office plans to make the Career Forum an annual event.
Despite the recession, said National Bank of Chicago recruiter Lisa Bowers-White, large firms such as hers are "expecting an aggressive season." Many of the recruiters have to fill quotas for executive training programs and said they were grateful for the chance to advertise their products, services, and job opportunities.
Business representatives and students tried simultaneously to sell themselves to each other. But while the reps could brag about state-of-the-art electronics or big money investment choices, many students found it difficult to parlay their liberal arts education into one of these fast-growth industry positions.
"I'm sorry, but we don't have any openings for a Government major," was a typical reply from a recruiter of a leading high-tech firm, Sanders Association
Both the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service were looking for people with degrees in accounting (which Harvard does not offer), and many of the high-tech companies wanted people with degrees in electronic engineering and computer sciences (of which Harvard awards fewer than 100 each year) Thus, many organizations said they attended more for publicity than for recruitment
Despite the recruiting complaint. "I wish there had been more firms," students called the forum informative" and "valuable" OCS officials agreed that it achieved its goal of giving students a look at a variety of career opportunities and helping them to prepare for the spring recruiting seaso