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Commencement 2009 Marks Challenging Job Climate for Graduates

5/14/2009 --

Alumni rally to support new entrants in the marketplace.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Graduating during the current recession will forever be one of the marks of the Ross Class of 2009. The job market has been challenging for both students and the staff in the Office of Career Development (OCD) this year. Fortunately, the school's historically diverse portfolio of recruiting companies and the support of dedicated alumni has helped mitigate the tough employment climate.

Ross alumni came through with more than 160 new job postings this season. Al Cotrone, director of Career Development and Student Affairs, says that kind of support is critical today, and he encourages alumni to continue posting openings at Ross.

"Until each of our Ross students has settled into a position where they can deploy the skills and philosophies they have acquired here in Ann Arbor, we won't stop working on their behalf," says Cotrone. He and Ross School Dean Bob Dolan have been traveling extensively, reaching out to both old partners and new contacts, seeking advice and opportunities for Ross students.

Sustaining such focused and proactive efforts on campus and among alumni is more important today than ever. A 2008-2009 survey conducted by the MBA Career Services Council (MBA CSC) showed that most schools experienced declines in recruiting activity that were more significant than expected at the start of the school year.

Data collected in April 2009 showed that 60 percent of the respondents experienced a decline of more than 10 percent in full-time on-campus recruiting opportunities as compared to last year; in the fall, only 12 percent of survey respondents were experiencing such a decline. Similar results were found for full-time job postings, with 64 percent of respondents indicating a decline of at least 11 percent; in the fall, only 19 percent reported such a decline.

Internship recruiting activity, while down compared to last year, has not been hit as hard as full-time opportunities, according to the MBA CSC. Less than half of the respondents reported a decrease of at least 11 percent in on-campus internship opportunities and internship postings. Decreased recruiting activity for both full-time and internship positions was most pronounced in the financial services, consulting, and real estate sectors.

The MBA CSC is a global professional association for individuals in graduate management career services and MBA corporate employers. Some 400 members represent more than 160 MBA programs, advanced degree business schools, and corporations worldwide. For the current survey, MBA CSC collected data from 94 business schools in the United States, Canada and Europe, including most schools ranked in BusinessWeek's top 30 business schools and U.S. News & World Report's top 50 best business schools.

One positive finding is a reported increase in recruiting activity in certain industries. Half of the respondents reported increased recruiting activity in the government sector, over a third reported increased activity in healthcare services, and over a quarter reported increased activity in the energy and non-profit sectors. Schools are experiencing increased internship recruiting activity in the same industries, but to a slightly lesser extent.

As of early May at Ross, with 90 percent of the MBA graduating class reporting, 78 percent of respondents had received an offer. With the same percent of the class reporting last year at this time, 85 percent indicated that a job offer was in hand. The greatest impact has been felt among international students, says the OCD's Cotrone. To date, OCD has not experienced offer rescissions en masse, but the rescissions that have occurred have been almost exclusively to international students. In addition, he notes, many companies have deferred student start dates into 2010.

"I urge all Ross alumni to leverage whatever connections they have to ensure that your employers understand how to open their doors to our international students," says Cotrone.

On the BBA front, with 74 percent of the class reporting, 74 percent of respondents had received an offer. At this point last year, 77 percent of the class had reported to OCD, and 89 percent of them enjoyed an offer in hand. With nearly half of Ross BBAs pursuing careers in finance, the decline in that sector has hit Ross graduates disproportionately hard, says Cotrone.

MBA intern search results show that 76 percent of respondents (93 percent of the class reporting) received an internship offer for summer 2009. Last year at this time, 90 percent of the respondents (91 percent responding) had received an offer. Internship postings continue to come in, and the OCD staff has encouraged students to keep monitoring the posts and to think about alternative projects in order to include a robust experience on their resumes this fall.

Finally, BBA internship offers are actually up by one percentage point to 79 percent with an offer as compared to this same time in 2008, with 81 percent of the class reporting.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,