Weathering the tough job market storms

The bubble started a year ago as sub prime mortgage crisis. The resulting credit crunch culminated in a global financial meltdown and finally the dust has settled as a worldwide economic downturn.

In the face of such an adverse economic climate where layoffs and unemployment are fast becoming the status quo, fresh graduates and graduating students are facing bleak career prospects, like never before in recent times.

The United States, the centre stage of the financial fiasco is the worst hit. The reported job loss of 240,000 brought the unemployment rate to 6.5%, the highest in last decade in the US. Jobs are fast depleting, particularly in financial sector like banking and consulting, where students are increasingly finding it hard to get a break. Even for the available jobs, locals are being preferred over foreign students, a newspaper reported recently.

 

 Banking – the hardest hit

University of Chicago is a case in point. Unlike previous years when its graduates would get recruited  in droves by leading names in financial sector like JP Morgan  and Credit Suisse , now only a few can expect to get hired.

“Gone are the days when graduating students could have their pick out of a slew of job offers. Now they are settling with whatever job they are getting,” says Aparna Aiyar, a final year Economics student at the University of Chicago. One of her friends, with impressive track records who looked forward for a career in consulting ended up joining a private equity firm. “Mostly those who underwent summer training with the companies are expecting to get recruited, she adds, and though expectations are high from president elect Obama, situation looks far from improving in the next couple of years.”

Looking at the grim job prospects many of the graduating students are considering taking up post graduate studies. In this scenario it is not just the landing of jobs that are becoming highly competitive but also admissions for higher studies given the large number of applications being received from students.

Mrs. Rita @whose daughter resigned her job with Goldman Sachs after working for four years to pursue Master’s in Business Administration from Wharton University feels it was a timely move for her looking at the number of layoffs reported recently in the company after the meltdown.

Away from banking and other financial sectors, those still maintaining a stoic sanguinity in the current downturn are students graduating with engineering degrees, like Sunada Chakravorty. A post graduate student of Louisiana State University he is quite confident of landing a job of his choice in the Oil and Gas sector, as soon as he finishes his M.S. in computational fluid dynamics next year.  For him and his other classmates, whose nationalities are ranging from India to China to other parts of the world, relocating back to their respective countries is the last thing on their minds. “Engineering like core sectors are here to stay and jobs would not vanish whether downturn or not. I might consider taking job in Singapore if such an opportunity comes in future. But for now US is my destination,” says Sunada.

@ name is changed to protect identity

 

 

UK follows suit

Similar sentiments are being echoed among students in the UK as well. Citing the bleak career prospects faced by graduates in the UK in the current financial gloom, Cherwell.org, a popular website from Oxford said that the students would be graduating with unprecedented levels of debt in the coming year.

“Apart from increased rentals and higher utility bills due to increased energy prices, not being able to find a job are adding to their woes in the current situation,” said Chitralekha Basu, a final year Singaporean scholar of  history  at Oxford, quoting her English friend Mathew Knowles who lost quite a bit of  money in shares from the meltdown.

Banking and consulting are particularly affected. Even law students are being picked only for insolvency cases unlike the previous years when they were being hired in large numbers for the housing sector, she adds.

Those who got hired a few months ago are considering themselves lucky. Competition has increased and only those from best colleges in London are getting recruited quickly, says Ashwini Rao, a fresh engineering graduate from Imperial College who started working with a management consultancy firm a couple of months ago. Her two friends were hired by Lehman brothers before the financial debacle but are saddled by the fear of getting axed anytime now.

For Chitralekha and few of her other friends who went to study under Singapore govt. PSC scholarship, it is time to feel happy and fortunate to be able to return to Singapore  and contribute to the policies affecting economic prosperity for the masses. “We are into interesting times in terms of policy making. Lots of challenges ahead,” says Chitra, with a smile of confidence.

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