Students find work unrelated to majors
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
Every student has an ideal career in mind after they obtain their hard earned degree. But not every student is able to land that dream job right off the bat, in fact many end up working temporary jobs to make ends meet.
Because of a shortage in teaching jobs, it is often education graduates who have a difficult time finding work.
Such is the case of Erika Lara, who graduated last December with a degree in Spanish and secondary education.
“I applied to all three major districts in El Paso (El Paso Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District and Socorro Independent School District) but these districts were not hiring and one of them even terminated 100 positions in their district,” Lara said. “It was very stressful and depressing not to be able to do what you studied so hard for even though you had the degree. I got to the point that I started to apply for jobs not having anything to do with my major such as Chipotle restaurant.”
In an analysis for the Associated Press conducted in April—which included an analysis of 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers and supplemented with material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University and the Economic Policy Institute—showed that about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed.
Lara blames the national economic recession for the lack of jobs in her field.
“The economic downfall is hitting the education system in El Paso and the budget cuts are really limiting schools in order to be able to hire new teachers,” Lara said. “Fortunately, the districts in San Antonio and even Dallas are already recovering from the budget cuts and are now hiring teachers all over the state. In the future, I plan to become a school administrator therefore I am working to earn my masters in order to have more opportunities and be able to compete. I really recommend for students looking for work to get a higher education and to be ready to look outside of El Paso.”
Several students have had to compromise or make sacrifices in order to get by. Such is the case with Melanie Urban, who graduated from UTEP in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in art.
“I managed a Subway restaurant for almost three years, and before working there I was a co-manager for a Wendy’s right after graduation,” Urban said. “The main reason for working in the fast food industry is that art jobs are hard to find in today’s economy.”
Urban said she had previous experience in restaurant management and needed to find a way to pay bills. Like many she graduated with, she found a job that would accomplish those goals.
“Most of the time, artists will work a day job so that they can pay their bills and then have to rest of the day to create new pieces,” Urban said. “I also found myself doing the same thing, and then making art fell by the wayside when work became more demanding. I will hopefully find a way to set up a small studio for my ceramics equipment soon.”
George Barton, director of the University Career Center, explained some of the reasons why many students can’t find work in their field of study.
“First, it’s important to recognize that the job market is very competitive right now. Of course, the availability of employment does vary by major (i.e. some majors are in more demand than others) and location (i.e. students may have to look elsewhere for jobs in their majors),” he said through an email. “It is also safe to say that the approach one takes to the job search may vary from one major to another. Some are more heavily recruited on college campuses. This does not mean that nothing is available for those other majors. Rather, employers may use different recruiting strategies for different majors.”
Blanca Abbud graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences but has since found steady work in sales.
“I have been in sales all my life. Even while going to UTEP I kept a full-time job in different types of sales positions. When I graduated I started selling cars full-time,” Abbud said. “I think when it comes to biology a lot of people don’t realize that a bachelor’s degree is not enough. You need a masters to continue to medical school to make any money unless you want to work in a lab testing food for $10 an hour.”
Rebecca Guerrero may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.