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After years of double-digit growth, 2008 was the year that the hiring of undergraduate business students came to a shuddering halt. With the economy in turmoil, job prospects for students getting ready to graduate in coming months are uncertain at best.
To take the pulse of this unlucky generation, BusinessWeek spoke to students from 12 top business programs ranging from Boston College to Brigham Young University about their concerns for the future—and whether they're having second thoughts about choosing business as their major. Even in this tough economy some graduating seniors still secured positions at top employers like McKinsey and PriceWaterhouseCoopers while others find themselves weighing a number of unique options: One young man is applying for marketing positions while simultaneously considering a pro career in the NFL. Many continue looking for—and worry about—finding work in their fields, while others have opted to go back to grad school.
Almost universally, these students share a sense of optimism about graduating with a business degree during a financial crisis. "Many of us have been on the wrong side of hiring freezes," concedes one University of Michigan senior. But he adds: "The business world is looking for new solutions to complex problems, and I think many of us have the skill set to approach these problems in a mature, creative way." In their own words, 25 students from the Class of 2009:
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