UConn students find higher paying jobs after graduation
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
When selecting a major, many UConn students think not only about what they are most interested in but also about how likely they will be to find a good, well-paying job. Forbes Magazine reports that the most “valuable” college majors are biomedical engineering, biochemistry and computer science. They claim that these graduates will be most likely to find employment with relatively high starting salaries. However, Jim Lowe, assistant vice provost and executive director of UConn’s Center for Career Development, and Nancy Bilmes, director of the center, have other ideas about what companies and employers are looking for in potential employees and how much a student’s major really matters.
Forbes Magazine found, using PayScale’s salary database as well as job growth projections for the future from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which majors are most “worth” the effort and tuition expenses it takes to get them. At the very top is biomedical engineering, with a median starting salary of $53,800 and a 61.7 percent projected increase for job opportunities in this field. One-third of the top 15 majors, in fact, were different concentrations in engineering, including software, environmental and petroleum engineering. Math also ranked high, with applied mathematics, mathematics and statistics all making the top 15. Forbes also found that the majors who were paid the least included social work, elementary education and culinary arts.
Hope is not lost though, according to Lowe and Bilmes, for those majoring in these and other fields that aren’t highly technical, mathematical or scientific. Lowe explained that how likely someone is to find a well-paying job is most dependent on how “actively (they are) pursuing their success,” and not simply what they major in. Both Lowe and Bilmes defined this as constantly working to improve one’s resume as well as pursuing part-time and full-time internships. Employers are looking most not at major but at how much “experiential learning” a person has had during their college experience, Lowe said. Experiential learning – primarily meaning a successful internship – is often a better indicator of employees’ potential success than classwork. GE and many other prominent companies, said Lowe, do not even consider major. Such companies recruit to starting positions regardless of major and look mostly at experience with internships and leadership.
Bilmes explained that it is “impossible” to successfully “link major with employment” because there are several other very important factors that require consideration. For example, how willing a person is to relocate to get a job will play a major role in his success. Bilmes explained that “if someone with a degree in Information Technology is willing to move to Silicon Valley, (they) will be more likely to find a higher-paying job” there than here in Connecticut. There are also graduates who get jobs that are technically not in their fields but still use skills they acquired from their majors.
The Center for Career Development’s website (http://www.career.uconn.edu) provides information on where graduates of all majors are employed, and some are surprising: English majors working as lobbyists and web content specialists. The website also provides resources to help students improve their resumes and get internships – what Lowe and Bilmes both recommend most for future employment success.