Getting a job after college can be tricky

Brenna McNamara

Here’s what some students are doing to overcome the post-college job hunting struggle

Remember those carefree first-grade years when the road to a career stretched so far ahead it seemed out of sight?

Well, that monumental college graduation day has begun bobbing its head on the horizon for some. There are those who embrace it, and there are those who are not ready to land in the real world quite yet.

And some of these people — whether to advance their careers, expand their minds or “avoid the inevitable” — decide to take a detour to graduate school.

Smyth Ransom, who is working toward his general studies master’s, said he knew he always wanted to get a master’s degree and eventually become a professor, but he didn’t know in what area. When he couldn’t find a job with his philosophy major, he decided to go for a master of general studies degree that would give him a well-rounded education and the chance to score a better job.

“Research shows more education means more income,” he said.

Mike Valentine has been working part time on his masters of business administration for about four years while holding a full-time career.

“With my bachelor, I can get entry-level or mid-level jobs like mine now, but with the masters, I can get administration jobs.”

Income is certainly not the only reason why students attend graduate school.

Mark Bartholet graduated with a baccalaureate degree in integrated mathematics, taught at the high school level and decided he was miserable.

Like Ransom, Bartholet had plans to get some sort of master’s degree. He toyed around with the idea of a master’s in education, but then realized he did not want to teach.

Since then, he has taken both chemistry and physics classes at Kent State as well as a religious studies class at John Carroll University, until deciding what he wanted to do.

“I was planning on going for a chemical engineering master, but I changed my mind two weeks ago to religious studies,” he said. “It’s a useful degree that’s not useful.”

Steve Woodward had no problem deciding he wanted to study geology, although he had no intention of going to graduate school.

After he graduated with a bachelor’s in geology, he could not find a job and, by chance, was offered an assistantship in the geology department at Kent State.

“I have to re-learn material because I have to teach it to the undergrads,” said Woodward, who has pretended to be a student, talking to kids and sitting outside the classroom with an iPod before the first class.

“I just looked like a really old undergrad,” he said. “They were all so confused when I got up and started teaching.”

Many master’s graduate students are offered these assistantships.

Sarah Rilling, interim graduate studies coordinator of the English department, described how assistantships work.

“They get a stipend, which is small amount of money that is like a salary. They’re also given a tuition waiver. For example, our graduate master’s candidates only get $800 per month,” she said, adding that they may or may not be able to eat on the small stipend.

Although Woodward is in his second year of the program, the program requires him to complete a thesis and get it published.

The thesis may be time consuming, but he believes post-graduate education is hardly an agonizing process because he knows the system and the professors.

“They respect your abilities more on the graduate level. They don’t sweat the small things,” he said of the professors who are more likely to give a general timeline for assignments, rather than a strict deadline.

Valentine said the professors treat the students as equals, rather than kids. He also said his experience working a career before going to get a master’s helped him to understand the real world concepts the professors try to convey.

“Some people who come straight from getting their bachelor’s seem to lack these real world concepts,” he said.

The real world does become reality quickly, and graduate school serves as a waiting room for many.

“How many weddings did you go to this summer?” Bartholet asked, redundantly. “I went to five. A lot of my friends who got their bachelor’s waited about two years then got married.”

Some are hardly ready for that.

Rilling said from her experience, most students do have a sense of purpose even though they may come to graduate school out of fear of diving into the real world.

“They think, ‘Oh wow, I’m not going to be a student anymore,’ or think, ‘What am I going to do with this degree?’ and come here,” she said.

“I enjoy living life with friends” Bartholet said. “I don’t look forward to a wife and a house and kids right now. I enjoy the freedom that this lifestyle lets me have.”

Contact features reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected].