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A sign at the engineering career fair in Towne Hall informs participates that the Lehman Brothers information session is cancelled.

This week's chaos and upheaval on Wall Street has hit home for many Penn students, who are feeling the backlash in an increasingly competitive and unstable job search.

On-campus recruiting, Penn's main job hunting mechanism, is bearing the brunt of the financial industry's woes, according to Career Services counselors.

The financial sector is usually the most sought-after by Penn students, said Barbara Hewitt, associate director at Career Services, but this year, many have broadened their search to increase the likelihood of getting hired.

The shift in student opinion is a likely response to the decline in recruiting.

"Many of the organizations and firms that are still coming have either reduced their schedules or are uncertain about how many positions they can offer our students," Hewitt said.

And some well-known companies that have always made visits to campus aren't coming at all. Lehman Brothers -- which was sold in part to international financial-services firm Barclays earlier this week - cancelled a planned session, according to Career Services.

"We've been trying to get the message across to students that this is the environment - the financial industry is hurting right now and students need to be more creative in terms of where to look for opportunities," she added.

To make the environment of OCR even more competitive, many of the firms have also explicitly said they will take most of their new hires from internship pools rather than conducting an external search.

Wharton senior Steven Okon, who has applied to about 40 firms, has taken this advice seriously and has begun applying to consulting firms in addition to investment banking firms, his primary interest.

The broader search that students like Okon are conducting is increasing the pressure among students who weren't even planning to look for finance jobs.

"It's worrisome because a lot of financial sector applicants are going to . apply elsewhere," said Wharton senior Amarylis Marrero - "including the major marketing firms I'm interested in."

Marrero, who attended the CareerLink Fair this year as well as last year, said the sessions on marketing and consulting were "way more packed" than last year.

This is due to a decline in the number of finance and real-estate firms that participated in the fair, according to Hewitt.

But some seniors are not letting the competitive environment affect their choices.

Wharton senior Brandon Dunn, who interned at an international finance firm in France this past summer, is partaking in OCR for the first time this semester and says he doesn't feel the pressure.

The big firms are encouraging people to apply because "their doors are still open and they're still recruiting," said Dunn, who received interview slots with both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

"Yes, firms are going to be more careful in considering new hires because of the economy, but I still think there are opportunities out there so I'm not too worried about finding a job," he added.

And sometimes a solution can be found in looking outside of the traditional avenues.

"It's not just about OCR. You have to do your own independent research too," Marrero said.

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