Nelson Chiu shook hands with the PepsiCo representative, exchanged a few brief words and received a parting "good luck."
He was dressed in a crisp, dark blue pinstripe suit on a recent Wednesday, and his voice was starting to fade; he'd been at a career fair inside the University of California, Davis, field house since 11 a.m., talked to more than a dozen companies, and it was closing in on 2 p.m. on the afternoon of his daughter's first birthday.
For Chiu, who earned his MBA in 2009 from UC Davis' highly regarded Graduate School of Management, a solid lead would have been a great gift.
For years, someone like Chiu with a newly minted degree from a top-flight business or law school had the closest thing to a golden ticket for a high-paying job. But the ongoing recession has brought graduates — many staggering under mountains of student loan debt — face to face with a new economic reality.
For most of the past decade, markets for both groups of grads were humming: 10 percent to 20 percent growth per year for MBA graduates, according to the nonprofit Graduate Management Admission Council; a 10-year stretch of near-90 percent job placement for law grads, the National Association for Law Placement reported.
But those days seem like ancient history now.
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