Most Wharton students should be able to find jobs after graduation, but they probably won't get to choose where.
A struggling economy and the aftermath of last year's terrorist attacks have left this year's graduates with a highly difficult job market. Director of Career Services Patricia Rose said that it was the slowest year in over a decade.
Rose claims that things have improved, but that the job market is still nowhere near the successful levels of the late 1990s.
Wharton graduate student Edwin McDowell wants to pursue a career in finance, but he has become to victim to the struggling economy.
"I've been doing a bunch of interviews but I-banking and finance just aren't hiring anymore," McDowell said. "You hear stories of '98 and '99 when people were getting four or five offers from top-tier investment banks, but that's not happening anymore," he said.
The opportunities Wharton students have been afforded in the past are no longer available. Just a few years ago, during the economic boom, a Wharton diploma essentially came standard with countless job offers and almost certain immediate riches, but such is no longer the case.
"Our students present themselves well, but it is certainly our sense that the typical student will have to look longer and a little more broadly," University President Judith Rodin said.
The booming investment banking and Internet start-up industries of the last decade created lucrative jobs for young students. But those same jobs are now very hard to come by and much less lucrative.
Unlike many of his peers, Wharton senior Gustaf Lilliehook was easily able to find work for post graduation. Lilliehook will be returning to his native Sweden to work as a consultant.
"In Europe, a business education is valued more," Lilliehook said. "It's more difficult to find a job in America."
Although Lilliehook avoided the horrors of the American job search, he's aware of his peer's struggles.
"People now will have one or two offers as opposed to five or six," he said.
Still, the University feels that its students should be able to find decent work.
In the past, Career Services has held panels instructing students about handling and deciding between several job offers, but the program has had to change its goals.
Current panels aim to help students find a single opportunity, instead of sorting through offers.
"In an up-economy students shop more," Rose said, "but students are responding to a smaller job market."
Despite the poor economy, Wharton graduates are still not being left high and dry, without any opportunities or income.
"The situation seems to be stable. I know a lot of people who are actually finding jobs," Wharton graduate student Marco DiGiancomo said.
University officials and Career Services staffers insist that the lack of opportunities is directly correlated to the economy and not to the school's reputation.
"Penn continues to be a school of choice among recruiters," Rose said. "We still have good traffic."
While Career Services has struggled to help Wharton students, other students in the Penn community have not faced such intense backlash from the struggling economy.
Students from the Nursing School or Graduate School of Education have been the most successful graduates as, unlike Wharton students, their services are now at a premium.
Nursing and teaching may not be for everyone, but Career Services is stressing for students to try jobs outside of their immediate specialty.
"A major is not a career," Rose said.
Unfortunately, a scarce job market may force many Penn students to wait a little while before finding their careers of choice.
"Your grades and transcripts will only get you so far," Wharton senior Yeen Tech said.
Nevertheless, the University is still optimistic.
There are "some real realities out there that I think are real," Rodin said, "but we hope that students will continue to be successful."Comments powered by Disqus
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