Employment rates cause students to look at other majors for jobs

Published by adviser, Author: Bridget McClure - Rocket Contributor, Date: October 3, 2013
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Growing up, children are repeatedly asked what they want to be when they are adults.  But the reality of getting a job after graduating college doesn’t hit until the job hunt begins.  Finding a career after graduating may seem like a job in itself, and some might even become discouraged, settling for a position outside their field.

Slippery Rock University has a Career Education and Development Office that prepares students to find a job after graduating and collects the graduate statistics of the university.  Statistics are gathered by degree, college and major.

“SRU’s career office is one of the top offices in PA,” said John Rindy confidently.

Rindy, 47, is the director of the Career Education and Development Office at SRU.  He is always looking to help set students on the right career path.  SRU has had a career office for 30 years, formally known as the Placement Office, but has recently changed the way they market themselves, Rindy said.

“In past years, the career office saw about 300-to 400 students per year, from our relationships with faculty who would send us students,” Rindy said.  “Now, the career office makes about 2,000 appointments per year, a huge gain due to classroom speeches, showcases, and the involvement of younger students.”

Calculating the statistics of SRU graduates consists of multiple processes.  According to the 2013 Annual Report, a document from the Career Education and Development Office, surveys were mailed to graduates from Dec. 2011, May 2012, and Aug.2012 in Nov. 2012.  Phone surveys were then conducted in Feb.and March 2013 to graduates who did not respond to the mailed surveys by a student worker in the career office.  Finally, the career office contacted faculty and conducted internet research through LinkedIn and Facebook to see if non-respondents job information could be found.

Through these methods, the overall full-time employment rate was 56 percent for all graduates, including an 85 percent rate for graduate students, according to the 2013 Annual Report.  An additional 22 percent chose to continue their education full-time.  All but two percent of the remaining students are working part-time in their field or in another field.  Rindy said that the majors he feels get employed the fastest, typically within one year, are physical therapy, safety management, finance and accounting.  Based on the statistics provided by the 2013 Annual Report, Rindy is very accurate.

Of the respondents, 97 percent of physical therapy graduates became employed full-time in a job of their choice, meaning a career related to their field, stated the 2013 Annual Report.  84 percent of safety management graduates, 81 percent of finance graduates, and 64 percent of accounting graduates found jobs of their choice, acknowledged the 2013 Annual Report.  Other majors the report documents with high percentages for 2013 are math/science secondary education at 88 percent and special education-master teacher at 84 percent. Although the career office is responsible for calculating these statistics, their role in helping students land future careers is sometimes mistaken.

“The career office is responsible for students recognizing their strengths and making the necessary connections for securing jobs,” Rindy said.  “It all comes back to the student, how hard are they willing to work and bust down the barriers?”

One of the barriers Rindy mentioned was a geographical barrier.  If graduates consider a national job search, their chances of getting a job in their field would increase exponentially, Rindy said.  Other barriers Rindy mentioned were components of self-expression such as piercings and tattoos.

“I’m not trying to sound judgmental but rather factual,” Rindy said.  “If an employer has one candidate for the job with a 4.0 GPA and an arm sleeve, and another candidate with a 3.5 GPA and no tattoos, the employer is going to pick the second candidate if it is a job that works with a diverse public who may not be accepting of tattoos.”

There are a few factors that the 2013 Annual Report states should be kept in mind when considering employment statistics.  The report’s statistics suggests that graduates in majors that are career-specific fields have a greater chance of finding related employment rather than graduates in the liberal arts, although many of these graduates further their education.  The report also might suggest that overall career success is defined by each individual.

“Statistics cannot capture a person’s motivation, geographic flexibility, and short and long term career goals,” the 2013 Annual Report stated.

A factor that can add error in the mailed surveys is if a student does not land the job they envisioned obtaining after graduating, the student may select the option “Full-Time Other” on the survey instead of “Full-time of Choice” although their career is probably still related to their field, Rindy said.

Matt Meredith, Rock alumni and athlete, is currently the head tennis coach and academic coordinator at SRU.  He graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s in secondary education-social studies.  Meredith is an example of someone who didn’t let the geographical barrier stop him.

“The following summer after I graduated, I went to Philadelphia and tried to get a teaching job in Bucks Country,” Meredith said.  “While I was job searching, I was teaching tennis full time.”

A former tennis player for the Rock, he found his way back to SRU to obtain his masters, Meredith said.  His former tennis coach retired, and he got the job.  Meredith is also an example of a graduate who became employed full-time in a career not related to his degree.

Mark Metzka, 41, is a 1995 Rock alumnus and athlete.  Metzka is currently the assistant director of undergraduate admissions at SRU.  Metzka graduated with a bachelor’s in sports management and a minor in business and also played on the men’s basketball team.

“My first job after graduating was working and coaching at George Junior,” Metzka said.  “It wasn’t really in my field besides the coaching part; it had more of a criminology aspect.”

He only used the career office a few times during school, but a lot more when he returned in 2004 for his job, Metzka said.  He spent a lot of time organizing his resume with John Snyder, associate director of the career education and development office, Metzka said.

2008 alumnus of SRU and current Instructor, David Keppel, 29, Keppel graduated with a bachelor of science in communication-emerging technology and multimedia.  Upon graduating, he immediately went to graduate school, Keppel said.

While teaching at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Keppel received an email from Thomas Flynn, professor and chair communication department, for a teaching position at SRU, said Keppel.  Keppel expressed that he was more than happy to come back to SRU.

“I didn’t have much contact with the career office during my time at SRU,” Keppel said.  “I can only remember using the career center for one thing, senior seminar.”

The three of these men do not have a job in exactly what they went to school for.  This is becoming a much more familiar pattern today.

“When you look at advanced professionals, less than half of us nationwide are actually working in jobs that are related to our bachelor’s degree,” Rindy said.  “Mine is in environmental science.  I am certainly not doing environmental science anymore, but I am happy, love my job and am fairly compensated for my work.”

It is common to think that one should be working in a field related to their degree, but in actuality that’s not how the real world functions today.  The idea that you have to work in your field is from earlier times, Rindy said.  75 percent of the U.S. workforce has only been at their jobs for less than five years, Rindy said, something that would have never happened in the past.

“Since we are changing jobs so much these days, the chance that we are eventually going to shift completely out of our major field during one of those changes grows exponentially each time we change jobs,” Rindy said.

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