JOB HUNT ITSELF IS HARD WORK Graduates need to be aggressive


A few years ago, a business school graduate like Ritu Aggarwal would have been headed for some big accounting firm.

Not that Ms. Aggarwal didn't consider it.

In the months before her graduation in December from the University of Kansas business school, Ms. Aggarwal interviewed with recruiters from Arthur Andersen and Co. and Peat Marwick, public accounting firms that business graduates traditionally go after, and vice versa.

But she didn't limit her list to the traditional. More and more, business school graduates are considering smaller, service-oriented firms.

Ms. Aggarwal also interviewed for private accounting jobs and found a job at Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, which had sent recruiters to the University of Kansas.

Many of her 376 fellow business graduates still are looking for jobs.

"People think that being in private business is just settling for a job, that it's no good," said Ms. Aggarwal, now an accountant for Koch Engineering. "You just can't think public accounting. You need to expand your views."

Heading to private companies like Koch is one avenue that business schools are recommending to students. With more students searching for fewer jobs, schools and students are changing their ways.

"In the olden days, a job search would begin midway through the senior year," said Dan Short, dean of Kansas State University's school of business. "Now it almost begins freshman year. People begin to get involved in things much earlier with goals of getting a job."

Meanwhile, recruiting visits to campuses are down. Some companies that still come don't hire anyone -- the jobs just aren't available. The graduate seeking a job must be aggressive, using placement services and job-seeking on their own, educators say.

John Guettler, senior vice president of human resources for Fourth Financial Corp., Bank IV's parent, in Wichita, said his company recruits each year at business schools and career fairs.

"We try to stay abreast of what the schools are offering," he said, noting that more business schools are moving toward a broader-based curriculum. The bank holding company looks, he said, for people with solid grades, interpersonal and leadership skills and computer experience.

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