Recruiters Say They’re Hiring, But UCSD Engineering Students See It Differently
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an internship program for UCSD students in the fall. When asked about hiring for full-time positions, Balderas says BD is looking for PhD students in engineering, bioengineering, and life sciences for its corporate technology leadership and development program. When I asked about students graduating with masters’ degrees, he replied, “We’re just looking for PhDs at this time.”
One recruiter told me she thought some of the other companies have no intention of hiring—they’re just attending UCSD’s career fair to market their brand “and because they figure it’s already a sunk cost.”
Several recruiters actually refused to talk to me. In one bizarre incident, the recruiter in charge of the booth for San Diego-based ViaSat told me I couldn’t report anything another ViaSat representative had just told me unless I first cleared it through ViaSat’s corporate communications. What I was told was that ViaSat’s management is committed to hiring young engineering grads—despite the downturn in the economy. (I didn’t seek authorization to report this; I had introduced myself as a journalist at the outset).
About 500 undergraduate and graduate engineering students attended the job fair, and the handful I talked to say they are apprehensive about their job prospects. Some talked about extending their studies, which may help explain why applications for UCSD’s graduate engineering programs for the fall have increased 10 percent.
“My plan was to go out in the job market, try to get a few years experience, and then go back for a business degree, an MBA,” says Steve Sepanloo of Palo Alto, CA, a fourth-year undergraduate studying computer science. But now Sepanloo says he may go for the MBA first. “For whatever reason, the hiring has gotten more intense,” Sepanloo told me. “I don’t know if they’re hiring any less people for internships, but instead of one or two meetings, now you’re looking at six, seven, eight meetings. They want to be sure they’re getting the best.”
And then there is Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan, who is nearing the end of her master’s program in electrical engineering. If anyone, I thought a female engineer would stand a better chance of getting hired, but she shook her head. “It’s quite bad,” she says. “My field is circuit design, chip design, so my interests are very specific.” She adds, “Last year I got three or four calls for interviews, but this year, I can really see that the market is—well, there is no market.”