Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

Students brace for workplace changes


A student graduating from Harvard's Business School holds a U.S. flag with a dollar bill tied to it during the 357th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts June 5, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The New York Times is reporting a shift in campus recruiting, thanks to the Wall Street meltdown. Firms such as JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and others have canceled recruitment sessions at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and other universities. With more than 100,000 financial industry jobs lost so far this year, students who had been banking on six-figure salaries following graduation are rethinking their career trajectories. Matriculating into the highest-ranked schools and dual degrees are at the top of the list. Law school is becoming an increasingly appealing option.

Perhaps more notable is that students pay attention now in career services workshops. According to Robin Mount, interim director of career services at Harvard, students were more focused. “In previous years, they often spent these sessions sending text messages; this year, the sessions have been purposeful and heavily attended. Ms. Mount said she could have heard a pin drop.”

Employers overseeing these young workers better brace themselves. According to The Wall Street Journal, this group, born after 1980 and referred to as Generation Y, are not afraid to ask for what they want. Feedback is a biggie. A survey of Generation Y workers at Ernst & Young said that “providing detailed guidance in daily work” was moderately or extremely important, compared with 39 percent of Baby Boomers.

With feedback a priority for these recent college graduates, employers are adapting. Ernst & Young launched an online “Feedback Zone,” where employees can request feedback whenever they wish. IBM provides training for managers to sharpen their critiquing skills. The Journal offers advice such as minimizing surprises, being clear and “keeping it loose,” or avoiding formalities.