Things are definitely tough all over. Xconomy’s Bruce Bigelow recently visited a career fair at the University of California, San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. And based on this report, you might think he was talking to Detroit autoworkers, not students from a top engineering school.

Students Bigelow talked to at the fair were discouraged, while employers said they could be far more selective. Here is a snippet from the post:

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.”

It this doesn’t depress you enough, Bigelow also mentioned that Xconomy has updated its layoff tracker.

DAVID WASHBURN

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