In Tough Economy, Career Fair Attendance Down
The forum, held at the Albert H. Gordon Track and Tennis Center gym, attracted about 1,500 students—500 fewer than in recent years, said OCS Recruiting Director Judy Murray. Murray attributed the decline to the forum being held on a Thursday this year, rather than the traditional Friday.
Recruiter turnout is also down from a high of 140 firms three years ago, which Murray said might be due to the declining economy.
Only five information technology firms were present yesterday, whereas the forum attracted as many as 25 during the dot-com boom.
On the other hand, government and public service recruiting is up, in part due to the effects of last year’s terrorist attacks, Murray said.
Nearly 20 government agencies showed up at this year’s forum, as compared to about five in years past.
Spurred by Congress, the National Security Agency has stepped up its recruiting efforts and has been met by increased student interest, said recruiter Patrice Shackleford.
“Turnout at our booths across the country has been phenomenal,” Shackleford said. “I’ve really noticed a difference—we’ve been a lot more popular.”
The Peace Corps also reported a spike in interest since last Sept. 11. For instance, 25 Harvard graduates are going into the Corps this year, compared to five in 2000.
“The classes the last two years have had an interest in public service,” said James Arena-DeRosa ’78, the Peace Corps’ New England regional director.
Arena-DeRosa said he thought University President Lawrence H. Summers is in part responsible for the increase in students’ interest.
“I think it’s more than 9/11. I think the new president has been helpful—he has given a new face to public service,” Arena-DeRosa said.
On the other hand, Sgt. Michael Alves, an Army recruiter, said that both recruitment and interest have remained steady. In fact, Alves said, interest in the Army declined immediately after 9/11, though it has subsequently picked up.
The declining economy and recent corporate scandals account for a decline in financial recruiting, said David Glickman ’01, a recruiter from Citigroup Asset Management.
Glickman noted the absence of many major financial institutions who had attended the forum in recent years, such as JP Morgan, Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch.
Students gave the forum mixed reviews.
Naomi R. Cohen ’04 said she wished there had been more pharmaceutical companies. She also found many of the recruiters unhelpful.
“Professional recruiters don’t tend to know much about the rest of the company,” she said. “It’s kind of frustrating.”
Ayla M. Matanock ’05 came to the forum in search of a summer job in public service but left disappointed by the lack of paid positions.
“I was surprised by how many of the public service agencies were offering volunteer or for-fee positions,” she said. “I’m looking for a job.”
But Magda Kowalczykowski ’03 said she thought the forum was much better this year than last year.
“I’m glad I’m a senior this year rather than last year,” she said.