MIT's Class of 2003 has felt only the nip of the wringer that's now squeezing job seekers nationwide, according to Elizabeth Reed, director of the MIT Careers Office.
"The end of the technology-fueled boom of the late '90s sent hiring needs plummeting, but so far MIT graduates have been spared the extremes reported elsewhere," Reed reported.
Signs of troubled economic times affecting seniors have included fewer job offers and perks, rather than an acute drop in the number of employers recruiting at MIT, she added.
In fact, recruiting activity by employers is expected to increase at MIT during the coming academic year, an auspicious sign for the Class of 2004, and it has remained steady over the past two academic years. "At this point the number of employers who have reserved dates for 2003-04 is higher than it was at this time last year," Reed noted.
The highest proportion of recruiters last year came from management and technical consulting firms and from finance. They accounted for more than 25 percent of recruiters, she said.
Firms specializing in biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals and software were the second most significant recruiters at MIT. Firms that provide Internet products and services such as Amazon.com, AltaVista and Doubleclick, as well as information systems consultants, recruited at MIT in smaller numbers, Reed said.
Top employers of MIT's Class of 2002 included Oracle, Goldman Sachs, MIT, IBM, Merrill-Lynch, Microsoft, Raytheon and Texas Instruments.
Student interest in technical consulting, software development and biotechnology has remained strong in recent years, according to Careers Office figures.
The national economic picture has inspired MIT students to seek advice and guidance from the Careers Office.
"We've noted an increase in attendance at career panels on science policy, science journalism and nonprofit work, and the number of MIT applicants to law school has doubled in the past year," said Reed.
The Careers Office anticipated student concerns about the recessionary job market. "We worked hard to help students strategize, identify potential employers, hone job search tools and skills, and maintain optimism," Reed said.
Jason Wall, assistant director for employer development, created new opportunities through a nonprofit career fair co-sponsored with Tufts and Harvard, eFairs with Caltech (to increase West Coast opportunities) and the Ivy-Plus schools, and the office's first virtual employer presentation.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 4, 2003.