The job market is at a 20-year low, according to recently released statistics by the U.S. Labor Department. This information, combined with the uncertainty created by the possible war with Iraq and the flagging economy, caused engineering students from all disciplines to form long lines at booths of different companies at the Engineering Internship Fair yesterday.

Down from 150 companies that participated in the career fair held last September, only about 30 companies – which included Shell, IBM, UBS Warburg and many other firms from across the nation – came to recruit University students this semester.

The decline in companies’ incentives to hire new workers was illustrated by a report conducted by Conference Board, a research firm that said the number of help-wanted advertisements in newspapers in the United States hit an almost 40-year low in December. Students said the wave of bad news concerning the job market is forcing them to think up ways to avoid entering the job hunt rat race.

“I think postponing graduation is a good idea,” Engineering senior Francine Calderon said.

In anticipation of the gloomy economy, many graduating seniors have opted to value-add themselves by staying one more year at school to pursue their masters degrees. “Last spring, we saw a lot of panicked students. This year, I think seniors are more prepared,” said Stephani Townsend, campus recruiting representative of Lockheed Martin Corp. “We’ve seen more seniors are looking for internships because they are going to grad school.” But some companies, such as Lockheed Martin Corp. – an advance-technology company that supports NASA’s shuttle program -are “still strong in staff” and actively recruiting new blood, Townsend said.

“The (Columbia) shuttle was a tragedy, and we are doing everything we can to support NASA any way that they are asking us to help. But there really is no effect on us,” Townsend said. “We are strong and healthy, and have quite a few new contracts.”

While Townsend said Lockheed Martin Corp. is hiring over 2,000 full-time positions and 500 interns nationwide this year, job-cut statements were making news all week – Bank of America, Circuit City and WorldCom announced that they are going to slash 900, 2,000 and 5,000 jobs respectively.

Although it was an internship fair, many students in line were trying their luck at securing full-time positions.

Alum Jonathon Frohlich, who graduated last December, said despite being optimistic about his ability to land a career soon, his job hunt was slowed down by the dismal economy.

“I’ve been to a couple of career fairs, done a little bit of online job search … but I’ve got nothing more than an interview,” Frohlich said.

With fewer participating companies and more students trying to find a job at the career fair, students said they did not get much time to talk to the recruiters because of the long wait.

“It’s really impersonal. They just took my resume and stored it in their databases. I don’t have much hope. There’re just so many people,” Engineering sophomore Joel Donoghue said.

Donoghue’s view was echoed by Engineering sophomore Travis Ebel who said the situation was jeopardized by the fact that most of the companies were only targeting upperclassmen.

ports NASA’s shuttle program – are “still strong in staff” and actively recruiting new blood, Townsend said.

“The (Columbia) shuttle was a tragedy, and we are doing everything we can to support NASA any way that they are asking us to help. But there really is no effect on us,” Townsend said. “We are strong and healthy, and have quite a few new contracts.”

While Townsend said Lockheed Martin Corp. is hiring over 2,000 full-time positions and 500 interns nationwide this year, job-cut statements were making news all week – Bank of America, Circuit City and WorldCom announced that they are going to slash 900, 2,000 and 5,000 jobs respectively.

Although it was an internship fair, many students in line tried securing full-time positions. Alum Jonathon Frohlich, who graduated last December, said despite being optimistic about his ability to land a career soon, his job hunt was slowed down by the dismal economy.

“I’ve been to a couple of career fairs, done a little bit of online job search … but I’ve got nothing more than an interview,” Frohlich said.

With fewer participating companies and more students trying to find a job at the career fair, students said they did not get much time to talk to the recruiters because of the long wait.

“It’s really impersonal. They just took my resume and stored it in their databases. I don’t have much hope. There are just so many people,” Engineering sophomore Joel Donoghue said.

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