Pomp and paychecks

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Able to leap BMW salesmen in a single bound; faster than a speeding career search; more powerful than an American Express Gold Card.

It's ... Average Grad.

College graduates, apparently, no longer need to be super to land a super job. They no longer need to unload the H-bomb (Harvard diploma) when they show up for interviews.

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Judging from Shelley Coolidge's cover story, the primary requirements for students seeking significant careers are a diploma, a pulse, and a keyboard.

If you can work a computer by the time you stroll to the podium, you can, it seems, get a great job.

It helps to wear a clean T-shirt and, perhaps, tuck it in when you go for the interview. And just showing up for interviews on campus probably works in your favor, although not always.

But check out the chart on page 15. It lists average starting salaries for college graduates entering a variety of fields this year.

Wow. And these are just the averages. The chart doesn't include the computer animators who doodle their way to $90,000 jobs in Hollywood. It doesn't include the top 10 percent of Stanford's graduating class with double degrees in business and software programming which will likely buy the Internet by next Christmas.

It covers the Bryan Bushmans. An accomplished student from a big university, Mr. Bushman will earn more than the average American family in his first year on a job for which he, apparently, has no training. More power to him.

But I'm stunned, floored, totally in awe.

Why is this happening?

Flip the page to Keeping Track. A brief item from the International Monetary Fund forecasts a moderate global economy this year and a vigorous one in 2000.

Translation - the global financial crisis that barely touched the US is over, painting an even rosier outlook for those of you still last on your blocks to spend $47,000 on a sport-utility vehicle.

Now wander next door to the David Francis column, with its update on a US economy that continues to act like Houdini - stronger, more resilient, more clever, more charming than anyone imagined. Able to escape the ties that should otherwise bind.

And American companies can't get enough of what makes their business grow - people.

Technology makes us more productive, but in the Information Age, it's people that process information into goods and services.

All of which gives college grads the best job market anyone on the planet can remember.

It gives the rest of us some interesting clues about the nature of this economic boom and the stock market that goes with it.

The job market lacks the feel of a bubble. Companies are frantic but - the glib tone of this column aside - they're not just grasping for warm bodies.

They want kids with the education and attitude to learn the New Economy, kids who will slip loose from old-line restrictions and eventually accelerate business development.

They want more Michael Dells, interviewed on page 16.

Mr. Dell is famous for reinventing the way computers are made and sold, but he's not alone.

There are hundreds, thousands of Bryan Bushmans on their way to becoming Michael Dells - reinventing business processes, often using the Internet, within divisions and departments of companies we've yet to hear from.

*Send comments to mccormickl@csps.com

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