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Jobs Scarcer for 1990 Graduates


MANY college students would be envious of the high grade point average Nick Sgoupis achieved over his four years at Columbia University. He worked hard. But job offers have not been forthcoming. ``It's depressing,'' says Mr. Sgoupis, who studied electrical engineering. ``I have a 3.5 grade point average and no offers.''

Sgoupis and his peers in the 1990 graduating class are being slapped with a harsh reality - jobs are harder to find.

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An unsuccessful job hunt prompted John Friedrichs, a French and English major at Tulane University, to move West. After weeks of looking for a paralegal job in New Orleans, his job hunt led him to San Francisco.

``Most students find a job right out of college; but it's usually not one that meets their expectations,'' says Mr. Friedrichs. Although he found the job market rough, Friedrichs believes it is no worse then usual.

However, a Michigan State University survey of some 400 companies, big and little, found them planning to offer 13 percent fewer jobs to graduates of colleges this year. The reasons for the decline, the survey found, are weaker business conditions, limited growth in new business, and mergers, acquisitions, and buyouts. Also playing a role were staff reductions, increased global competition, and a slow turnover of current employees.

``It is very clear that employers are being very quality conscious and frugal in the numbers they are hiring and salaries they are offering,'' says Dennis R. Reigle, head of recruiting for Arthur Anderson, Inc.

Victoria Beltrano, a University of California, Los Angeles, economics major notes: ``Students should not worry about not finding the exact job immediately. It's not a life time decision.'' She has been looking for a consulting job for weeks. She expects to find one in her field by fall.

Typical of many manufacturing companies is the hiring policy of General Motors Corporation. It expects to hire only 500 graduates in the first half of this year. In 1988-89, GM hired 1,700 recent graduates.

``There are fewer key and technical people being hired,'' says Patricia Molloy, a spokesperson for GM.

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Although graduates are finding it tougher to get jobs, starting salaries have gone up. The Michigan State report noted that the average salary for bachelor's degree 1990 graduates has risen 3 percent from last year.

``Salaries are still increasing but not in the leaps and bounds that they were several years ago,'' says Mr. Reigle.

Changes in Eastern Europe are expected to bring some opportunities to the United States. A salary study performed by the College Placement Council found that new markets in Eastern Europe and the diversification in defense operations have had a positive effect on salaries.

Higher salaries are going to students who branched out into non-defense related fields as defense companies seek to diversify.

``Some of the students planned ahead and diversified into other areas like research,'' says Dawn Oberman of the College Placement Council.

In actual hirings the Michigan State survey projects a 20 percent reduction in aerospace and components hirings and a 17 percent drop in military hirings.

Students in business and other financial services will also have a hard time finding jobs.

``The market is tighter, especially in the financial services area,'' says Trudy Steinfeld, director of New York University office of career services.

Continental Bank in Chicago expects Master of Business Administration layoffs from Drexel Burnham and other institutions to inundate the hiring pool and to compete directly with graduates of MBA programs. This year Continental will hire twice as many Bachelors students this year then last year.

``Bachelors students have more choices right now. Its better for them then for MBAs,'' says Kim Pimley, manager of college relations for Continental.

While employers are offering less they expect more. Aside from experience, a second language, computer skills, and communication skills are important.

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