Lining Up for Jobs - Page 2

: Bucking the Trend">

Bucking the trend and actually increasing hiring of entry-level IT candidates is Microsoft. In its most recent quarterly report, the Redmond, Wash., company announced it will be hiring about 800 full-time college grads, as well as another 700 to 800 interns. Thats up from the 650 students it hired last year.

The good news loses luster when you compare the number of openings with the flood of résumés they elicit. Senior Technical Recruiter Colleen McCrearys team typically sees some 100,000 résumés annually. Competition, to put it mildly, is intense.

While many organizations are holding down IT hiring, internships offer entry-level IT candidates a chance to get experience and, perhaps, a job. And the good news is that some companies, including BAE, are expanding internship programs.

Three years ago, BAE hired 15 to 20 summer interns. The company decided to get serious about the program during the 2000-2001 school year, bumping up its intern pool to 70. Management also developed a new policy of scrutinizing interns résumés as closely as for full-time hires. When the students returned to school last fall, they were put on educational leaves of absence and retained their status as employees. The move gave the company the flexibility to bring them back over the Christmas break and to avoid paperwork when the students returned the next summer, Gray said.

BAE expanded its internship program, Gray said, because it gives the company a chance to train IT professionals from the ground up in the companys culture and work methods.

Another organization continuing to invest in its internship program—even as it cuts back on IT hiring—is The MathWorks. While the company has halved hiring levels, it has spared the ax when it comes to students because management views its internship program as a long-term investment. This summer, the company brought in 25 interns and co-op students—the same number as in the past few years.

"We hire them now [as interns] with an eye toward [hiring them as full-time workers] two to three years down the road," Cole said. The majority of The MathWorks entry-level hires enter the companys one- to two-year engineering development program, which exposes new hires to various areas of the company and then feeds them into either software development, technical sales or applications engineering.

Recent graduates may experience increased competition for such internships, however. While companies such as The MathWorks and BAE are expanding or at least sustaining internships, others are cutting back on the programs (see story, "If Internships Dont Work Out ...").