With unemployment rates since the beginning of the recession rivaling those of the Great Depression, many in the class of 2010 struggle to find post-graduation employment in the most popular fields, yet the job market has spurred current students and recent graduates alike to pursue creative work alternatives for their time after the Hilltop.
Robert Chedid (MSB ’10), a marketing and finance double major, joins the ranks of many Georgetown students who have yet to solidify their postgraduate plans.
“I’d ideally go into a position that leverages both my marketing and finance skills, something like a marketing consulting position that’s both quantitative and abstract,” Chedid said. “Though I’m sure the economy has affected my job hunt so far, I’m confident I’ll be able to find a job by graduation or shortly thereafter.”
According to the 2009 senior survey published by the Career Education Center, only 57 percent of the Class of 2009 reported being employed after graduation – a 5 percent decrease from the Class of 2008. Kim Keller (MSB ’09), who now works for the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, is one such student who experienced difficulties seeking employment after graduating last spring.
“I was looking mainly at consulting jobs,” Keller said. “I was a finance and management double major. I wanted to do strategy work, but all the places I applied to weren’t hiring. By the time I took my job I was [going to] take any offer.”
But as the ailing economy exacerbates the job hunt for recent graduates, many have been forced to explore other options, using the skills learned from their majors to find employment.
When Betsy Brown (COL ’08) first enrolled at Georgetown, she was a government major hoping to pursue a career in public policy. Now, she is working in communications and community relations for an international human rights nongovernmental organization in Kenya.
“I became interested in international human rights work during my time at Georgetown, but I didn’t expect to find myself doing this work so early in my career,” Brown said. “However, after working in public affairs consulting for just a year and a half, I decided to take the opportunity to go overseas to do similar communications work for an NGO.”
Brown added that her government major has helped her develop a greater understanding of the world and her career.
“My major was particularly helpful in shaping my understanding of the role and function of governments and nongovernmental organizations in the [United States] and abroad and has enhanced my ability to work within those systems, in both the [United States] and abroad,” Brown said.
While some graduates found their major not only helpful, but essential, others said that their major was not nearly as beneficial as their training in the workplace. Colleen Regan (SFS ’09), who currently works at Credit Suisse in the financial services company’s Prime Services department in New York City, said she didn’t begin thinking about finance until midway through her junior year at Georgetown.
“As a general rule, you learn most of what you do in your job on the job,” Regan said. “Having an economics background is helpful if you work in finance, and I’m glad I majored in international political economy. Very few people I work with were actually finance majors in college – it’s not really necessary.”
Some graduates choose to hold off on finding employment by seeking some form of postgraduate education. Twenty-three percent of the Class of 2009 chose to attend a postgraduate institution, down 1 percent from 2008.
Kathleen Elsener (NHS ’10), a human science major, plans to attend medical school and work in health care as a primary care physician.
“Human science allows students to study the human body at an undergraduate level and has given me opportunities many students first encounter in graduate level education,” Elsener said. “Hopefully this background has prepared me for the rigors of medical school.”
Hector Cendejas (COL ’10), a sociology major with a concentration in social justice analysis, plans to attend law school after taking a gap year.
“Hopefully I can work in a government office, if not do community organizing and fight for justice, but of course, my main goal is law school and [to] become a lawyer in D.C. or [New York],” Cendejas said. “I think my major gives me an opportunity to seek any type of job, whether it’s working with people, law, politics and even business.”
While some students and recent graduates have sought careers that align with their majors, others take an entirely new direction. Yet the question remains: Is there really such a thing as a useless major?
Jake Tuber (COL ’09), who majored in philosophy at Georgetown, is currently a content producer for NBCOlympics.com and works with the network’s local affiliates.
“I was a philosophy major. Directly speaking, there’s almost no correlation between philosophy and anything,” Tuber said. “On a certain level the analytic skills required to complete that major has helped the editing skills for the stuff I do here. It’s forced me to be a very careful reader and writer. It’s forced me to assess things from different angles and appreciate different viewpoints.”
As current seniors seek postgraduate work and underclassmen search for summer internships, Hoyas can take peace of mind in that once they find a job, their Georgetown education will have prepared them well for it.
– Hoya Staff Writer Matt Joseloff contributed to this report.