The Uncertain Job Market for Students
Monday evening, I had the privilege to attend a lecture sponsored by both The Hall Institute and Emory’s Journalism Program, titled “Dateline Pyongyang: The Associated Press and the Opening of North Korea.”
The presenter, Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, a woman of high global stature and media prominence, discussed her involvement in the recently groundbreaking achievement of opening the first Associated Press Bureau in North Korea. Admittedly, although the topic was fascinating, I knew little to none about the subject matter, but I didn’t mind that at all.
My real motivation was the post-presentation Q & A. I had no idea what I’d ask her, or even in fact if I’d have the courage to raise my hand, but I knew I wanted to.
As others around me raised their hands one by one, mostly faculty or press members, I quickly began my thought process.
I really wanted to ask Carroll the same question that Aaron Sorkin sets up for the entire first season of HBO’s “The Newsroom,” that is, after spending much time in North Korea, “What makes America so great?”
But I worried that may not have been the right time or place. I thought to ask her about her educational career and background with journalism (I am still in my precarious situation of a College freshman without a guaranteed journalism minor yet).
I was, however, too worried that no one else had been asking questions that didn’t involve the AP’s involvement in Pyongyang.
Let’s be honest: I was intimidated by the crowd and by the speaker.
I feared that the program was nearing an end. I needed to get my question in. So, I thought about one investigative concept Professor David Armstrong had taught my Journalism 201 class: using the 5 W’s, that is who, what, where, why and when, to figure out what makes something news. The AP’s new bureau in North Korea is an unbelievable feat, but what next? Where do we go from here?
I found my question.
“You mentioned that the Associated Press currently has bureaus in about 100 different countries. Where does the AP see itself in the short and/or long term, do you plan to expand to other countries, and if so where?”
Carroll’s immediate response evoked a chuckle amongst the crowd, “He’s looking to make breaking news I see.” She continued to assure me that the AP has several projects in the making and “not to worry, there’ll be plenty of jobs for you.”
As usual, that got me thinking.
When President Obama took office in January 2009, the US unemployment rate was at 7.8%, and after peaking at 10% in October of that same year; it is currently at 8.3% (source: United States Department of Labor).
In this statistic, the more important figures have to do with post-graduate employment rate. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released data in August reporting that 13.9% of men and women 20-24 years old, are unemployed, increasing from April’s 13.7%.
Emory, just like any institution for learning, is an investment, and just like any investment, both students and families alike want to be able to evaluate what they’ve spent money on, and more so, the return on their investment. Are college students, more specifically, are Emory University students getting jobs after graduation?
I went to Dr. Paul Fowler, Executive Director of the Emory Career Center to get some more information.
“Our goal is that 100% of seniors are able to secure definitive acquired post-grad plans by commencement. Whether a job, grad school/med school/law school, gap year, serving in the military – or walking the beaches for a year – we are committed to assisting every student in not only identifying the best option for the next phase of their life, but achieving it,” Fowler said.
Fowler discussed how Emory stresses a “resolution,” that is, that everyone knows where they are going and what they are doing. Fowler continued, “With 84% of our seniors fully resolved at commencement we have one of the highest success rates in the country.”
As for the statistics, according to the Emory Career Center, between June 2009 and this past commencement, the percentage of students going on to graduate/professional school has increased from 38% to 43%.
Post-Undergraduate Employment has nearly doubled in four years, from 16% to 30%. Finally, the most impressive pair of statistics: between June, 2009 and June, 2012, the percentage of graduated students that were not seeking jobs and the number of graduated students that were actively looking for jobs has flip flopped. The percentage of graduated students that are not seeking jobs is at 3%, which is virtually nothing.
You may be thinking: he just spent a paragraph listing stats. – So what? The “so what,” here is the number not identified on the pretty graphs, the 70% post-Emory undergraduates that are unemployed.
Yes, there may be 16% looking, but there are still 70% of students that paid four years of Emory’s hefty tuition, that spent four years learning Economics, Spanish, Biology, and Calculus, that spent four years on the baseball team or in the jazz ensemble, and now what?
Please don’t take my neurosis the wrong way: Emory University offers a myriad of ways to contact employers, prepare for interviews, enhance and refine resumes, get internships, etc.
It would be too naïve and too immature to point fingers at the University, and that’s exactly what I’m not doing. I am just raising the topic and the concern for the sake of awareness and education.
Upon cutting the Journalism Program, Dean Forman said that it was too “pre-professional” for a liberal arts education.
In Tuesday’s issue of The Emory Wheel, a letter to the editor by two Emory graduates, David Michaels (C12) and Aaron Greg (C12), mentioned that “Dean Forman has neglected to point out that every student in Emory’s journalism program – by requirement – has at least one other major… like any other department in the College of Arts and Sciences, teaches students how to think critically and ask questions about real-world problems related to their academic areas of interests, which is consistent with what it traditionally means to study the liberal arts.”
Where’s the problem?
In a study conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Dr. Fowler added that, “most employers are asking for MORE emphasis to be placed on the liberal arts education.” But don’t worry, journalism is too “pre-professional.” Who needs jobs these days anyways?
One more fun fact: just to complete the Journalism minor at Emory, one needs 400 hours of internship work. Although on average only about 5% of post-undergraduates go on to internships, that’s a whole lot better than being unemployed.
Wednesday evening the world tuned in to watch the first of three debates between President Obama and Governor Romney.
The first question on the table: “Let’s start the economy, segment one, and let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs?”
I suddenly heard the sound of clapping. Ms. Carroll was finished with her presentation – I awoke from intellectual daydream.
“Not to worry, there’ll be plenty of jobs for you.”
Brett Lichtenberg is a College freshman from Hewlett, N.Y.