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September 18, 2003
Study: Student Job Market Bouncing Back
The employment market for students at top-tier undergraduate and MBA programs has passed a low point and is now on the way up, according to a study released by WetFeet, Inc.

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"Even though the general job market continues to limp along, the demand for the best and brightest students has turned the corner," says Steve Pollock, president of WetFeet. "Students have lowered their compensation expectations and expanded their job search activities. Meanwhile employers recognize the need to maintain a pipeline of future leadership talent. As a result, employers should be prepared for tougher competition on the hiring front this fall."

The firm conducted the survey in April 2003, receiving responses from more than 2,700 undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students on issues such as salary expectations, interview rates, job and internship offer rates and the perceived effectiveness of campus and online recruiting efforts.

Compensation expectations fell for the third year in a row, with nearly two-thirds of all students reporting that they had lowered their expectations this year, according to the study. Nevertheless, students remained optimistic about the job search with three-quarters of respondents expressing confidence that they would find a job they want. Eighty-two percent of respondents indicated that they expect the job market to be better in 2003-2004.

Other findings include:

  • Job offers jumped 30 percent between 2002 and 2003, with undergrads receiving an average of 1.1 offers (up from 0.8 in 2002), MBAs receiving an average of 1.5 offers (up from 1.2), and non-MBA graduate students receiving an average of 0.9 offers (up from 0.7).
  • Competition for top candidates heated up. As of April 2003, 27 percent of undergraduate candidates and 40 percent of MBA candidates had received multiple job offers (up from 19 percent and 34 percent respectively in April 2002).
  • Compensation expectations dropped for all categories of students. Among undergraduates, business majors reported the biggest drop, with average salary expectations falling to $40,700 in 2003 from $43,020 in 2002. MBA salary expectations dropped to $80,900 in 2003 from $81,990 in 2002. Expected signing bonuses were also lower for all categories.
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