Lehrer: No matter the major, you’ve got this

Job opportunities await those underrepresented at Career Fair

Last week, Case Western Reserve University’s Career Center hosted the Fall semester University Career Fair. Yet there appeared to be much less opportunities for CWRU undergraduates pursuing a degree, especially within the College of Arts and Sciences. This was reported in The Observer even a few weeks back.

Yet I can ensure you that there is reason to find hope, irrespective of your major. The national economy is picking up, and more jobs are becoming available monthly throughout our country. While, at the same time, college is becoming less and less affordable for the average American family, a four-year college degree shows far greater career prospects, economic security and economic mobility than Americans with only a high school education or less.

Yes, employment after college graduation is and should always be an important component of attending a higher education institution and choosing which one to attend for that matter. Yet the skeptics of liberal arts and humanities, social sciences and other majors offered within our College of Arts and Sciences should not always be so hard on us. These students may initially not be able to find starting salaries as high as those for students obtaining a degree from the Weatherhead School of Management or the College of Engineering.

Nevertheless prospects of gaining employment across much of the undergraduate disciplines at CWRU are generally quite high. Eventually wage gaps narrow across different areas of study after one starts working in the field. Look closely at the Class of 2014’s First Destination Survey, provided annually by our Career Center. Those seeking employment with degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences have similar rates as those from the Weatherhead School of Management and all undergraduates of that year’s class overall (7 percent for each). This was under the category of “Available for Employment.”

When broken down by specific major, the outlook does not seem so intimidating either. Let’s look at the bulk of the social sciences and humanities in particular and compare them to the apparent overrepresentation of what companies seem to be recruiting at the University Career Fair (mostly those majors offered by the Weatherhead School of Management and the College of Engineering). The “Available for Employment” rates are about the same across many engineering concentrations when compared to social science majors: for a CWRU Psychology major and a Biomedical Engineer one, it’s five percent versus six percent, respectively; for a Political Science undergraduate compared to an Electrical Engineering one, it’s eight percent versus seven percent, respectively.

Then, if one evaluates the data from the Weatherhead School of Management students, similar trends can be identified when compared to some of the humanities and liberal arts majors: Art History majors and Marketing ones are at 20 percent and 21 percent, respectively; English and Finance majors are exactly equivalent, at 13 percent each.

I encourage everyone on campus, regardless of aspirations or area of study, to take advantage of the plethora of resources on our campus that can prove invaluable for employment attainment. There are many, but here are a few examples. CWRU boasts an entire office dedicated to helping undergraduates perform research (SOURCE). The University’s Office of Education Abroad offers several opportunities to study abroad in a flexible manner (I did a short-term Spring Break one).

CWRU incentivizes participating in some practicum or field-based experiential learning, including a co-op, in many ways. I hope you will reach out to these amazing campus resources, because their offices and staff truly strive to help make a CWRU undergraduate’s experience meaningful, worthwhile and provide them with a skill or leadership qualities that will inevitably be appealing to any employer.

Josh Lehrer is a senior graduating this year. He was not fazed by the lack of offerings as a Psychology major, and met with many government and social justice oriented employers at the University Career Fair. He remains quite confident in his abilities to find employment by graduation.