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Career Forum Could Be Broader

By The CRIMSON Staff

Last Friday's 14th annual Career Forum was a success on many counts. More than 100 firms and organizations peddled their wares to more than 1,500 students inside the Gordon Track and Tennis Center. Glossy information pamphlets, memorable slogans and cute styrofoam toys abounded. It was a chance for the undecided to decide and for the decided to schmooze.

But for a fair purportedly about careers in general, this one seemed far too tailored to the needs of future consultants and investment bankers. Fully 57 of the more than 90 companies at the forum were listed under the heading "consulting" or "investment banking"; four more came under the title "financial services."

This strange turnout is not the work of the forum's organizer, the Office of Career Services (OCS). Indeed prospective recruits are thankful that OCS provides them with the resources and the opportunities to preview interested employers. However, it is sad that amid all the diversity of Harvard's student community, the vast majority of the companies with the inclination and finances to attend the Career Forum seem so darn uniform.

There is nothing wrong with a career in investment banking or consulting; after graduation, working in those fields can provide students with opportunities to travel around the world, manage money and earn a comfortable living. The annual autumn recruiting sessions attest to these fields' popularity among Harvard students, and any Harvard career fair would be amiss not to feature these companies prominently. Yet a career fair with nearly two-thirds of its offerings in those fields short-changes those Harvard students considering doing something else with their lives.

True, there were a smattering of other fields with booths at the forum. For those interested in teaching or public service, there were five programs each represented. Eight companies were out for those considering careers in computers, three for insurance, three for manufacturing, two for retail and one each for accounting, advertising, commercial banking, communications, entertainment, real estate and law.

But these fields seem to constitute a random sampling of careers that Harvard undergraduates may or may not be interested in. One cannot say with a straight face that the number of pre-law students at Harvard merits only one law firm at the annual career fair. And what of the premeds? There were no hospitals or medical schools. What of those wanting to go to graduate school in the arts and sciences? There were no university representatives except for two dozen study-abroad organizations. Of course, the medical schools and law schools probably figured they didn't need to come to campus; students will come to them. And other organizations likely did not want to spend the money to come to a career fair--money that investment banking and consulting firms can command without a second thought.

If those at this year's Career Forum are the only representatives who have the money or who want to come to a career fair, that is fine. But at least call the forum what it is--recruitment on a grand scale--rather than raising the hopes of those not headed toward Wall Street with talk of a general, all-encompassing "Career Forum."

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