Soon-to-be Kansas University graduates appear to be defying the gloom-and-doom job market projections that came out of two national college graduate hiring surveys, KU officials say.
"From the number of employers who have come through this office, there is good interest in hiring people," said Terry Glenn, director of the KU placement office.
A Northwestern University survey reported that 260 businesses it contacted plan to hire almost the same number of grads with bachelor's degrees in 1990 as they did last year 36,000.
And a Michigan State University study of businesses, government agencies and schools showed that employers planned to hire 13.3 percent fewer graduates in 1990 than in 1989.
Fred Madaus of the KU School of Business placement office, said the number of companies conducting campus interviews with business students may exceed last year's record of 211.
"It looks like a pretty high percentage of people we've contacted so far know what they're going to do next year. That's the important thing to us," he said.
MADAUS SAID business graduates can expect an average starting salary of $23,500. Master's of business administration grads are averaging about $32,500, he said.
Mergers and acquisitions are the primary economic forces affecting business students, and recent mergers may restrict the job pool for accountants, he said.
Julie Cunningham, who helps place KU engineering graduates, said campus employer visits were up 11 percent this year. That's the third consecutive annual increase, she said.
Salaries should rise 1-5 percent over 1989, meaning civil engineering graduates would start at an average of about $27,000 a year and chemical engineers about $36,000.
Most engineering graduates, she said, are finding jobs in Kansas and Missouri. Consulting and construction firms are recruiting heavily, and the oil industry is making a comeback, she said.
"THERE ARE some pockets where hiring is not so good," Cunningham said. "Aerospace companies have less of a presence on campus . . . with peace breaking out all over."
Lois Clark, assistant dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Design, said the school's reputation and small graduating class mean students have more career options.
Architects follow the building booms, and Dallas and Houston seem to be rebounding. Traditional markets in Kansas City and St. Louis are soft this year, she said.
Clark said a new graduate can expect an annual salary of about $20,000, which may seem low, but architects serve a three-year apprenticeship before they can be licensed.
ARCHITECTURAL engineers continue to do well, she said. The 20 grads coming out of KU, which has one of 10 such programs in the nation, can expect salaries close to $27,000.
Glenn said technical degrees are the most sought after when businesses come to campus to recruit, but students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences needn't despair. The possibilities are endless, he said.
"In the liberal arts, communications majors are doing well. It's obvious employeers are looking for them. Communication skills are desired," he said.
Although many students have secured their first post-college job, those who go through commencement in two weeks without one shouldn't break into a cold sweat, Glenn said.
"People still get jobs after school's out for the summer," he said. "In education, many jobs aren't offered until later in Kansas because budgets aren't set."
In addition, some students enroll in graduate programs rather than accept a job offer. Others involved in ROTC programs will begin their military careers.
UNDERGRADUATES who are a year or more away from the exhausting job search should be aware of several keys to success, Madaus said. They are:
Do well in school and be active outside the classroom.
Be prepared to attack the job market with an organized plan.
During interviews, keep geographic options open.