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Market gets tougher

(USA TODAY) -- The slumping economy has many employers cutting back on the job offers and internships they're offering college graduates.

But the hiring shift may be a rude awakening for college students, many of whom still expect to land the multiple job offers and fat signing bonuses showered on recent graduates.

Most companies had expected to continue hiring college graduates at a brisk pace, according to a fall 2000 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). But last month's survey found about 50% of the companies surveyed are lowering those projections.

"We asked people why they were reviewing their projections," says NACE spokeswoman Mimi Collins. "And overwhelmingly, they said, 'The economy.'"

At California State University at Fullerton, the number of employers recruiting on campus remains on target with previous years. But the number of jobs those companies have available has fallen, officials say.

"It's a return to an environment where employers are acting rationally and students have to sell themselves again," says Jim Case, director of the career planning and placement center.

At the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta, internships are drying up for MBA students. Says Nancy Ortman, director of an MBA career management program: "It's frustrating. Some extremely qualified people are seeing their dreams hurt."

At Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y., several engineering firms at a job fair had canceled all entry-level hiring. Some also canceled recruiting dates because of cutbacks.

For some employers, the decreasing tug of war over students is a boon. Chevron is finding it doesn't have to offer as many non-salary benefits. Students also are less likely to negotiate over salary.

"We went in thinking it would be a very, very competitive year. But we've seen a change in the last few months. Students last year we were having a hard time getting to talk to us are calling us now," says Mark Witzke, college recruiting supervisor. "Some of our competition has dropped away."

Nevertheless, many students remain undeterred. In fact, 30% expect to have four or more job offers by the time they graduate, according to a recent survey.

"There's a ton of jobs, and people are feeling very confident," says Tyler Wentz, 22, who will graduate in June with a degree in consumer finance from Ohio State University in Columbus. "Employers want us because we're trainable and young and freshly educated."

Others are sensing a shift.

Says Noemi Dagio, 29, of Placentia, Calif., an international business major who graduated in December from Cal State Fullerton: "I don't have anything yet. I assumed I would find something faster, so it's a little difficult. I need a job."

(c) 2001 USA TODAY

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