At the start of his senior year in 1987, Jeff Solomon had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He wasn't even sure what skills he had to offer. "I woke up and realized that it was time to get serious about getting a job," said Solomon, who majored in economics in the College. "I didn't know what I wanted to do and I really didn't know too much about the jobs out there." Today, Solomon is a personal investment analyst for Peter Cohen, who was the former chairperson of Shearson, Lehman, Hutton. Cohen is a man with a lot of money to invest. Just as Solomon was unsure of what awaited him in the working world after graduation, many seniors starting their job searches wonder if they will ever find a job. And like Solomon, they usually end up with a good one. But economists predict that in the next decade some college students will have a harder time finding jobs after graduation than members of Solomon's class did. Graduates with technical degrees can expect to find good jobs waiting for them, but liberal arts graduates will have to compete against one another for a limited number of new positions, a recent national survey of hiring trends predicted. But career counselors, recruiters and alumni interviewed last week said that even as the job market for college graduates becomes more competitive nationwide, graduates from the University -- regardless of their major -- will be well positioned. A survey of 1989 graduates from the College, which included responses from about half of the class, showed that School of Arts and Sciences graduates took more than 70 different types of jobs in nearly 50 different industries. Of those who responded to the survey, starting salaries for SAS grads ranged from $10,400 to $37,000 with a class average of $22,514. They took jobs across the nation and around the world with the highest concentrations in the Northeast, Washington, D.C. and California. Approximately 32 percent of the graduates who responded to the survey decided to attend graduate school. However, eight percent were still seeking full-time employment at the time of the survey -- several months after graduation. "We do phenomenally well," said Peggy Curchack, Career Planning and Placement Service assistant director for the College. "My measure is that students here have access to a range of jobs, not that we merely do well in one area." Even with the job market for liberal arts graduates becoming tighter, Curchack said that liberal arts students from the University still have an edge. "The education you get here and the support we give you make it highly likely that you can land the job you want," Curchack said. "All of you who come out of premier institutions will be desired whether or not there is a fall-off in employment for people who are less privileged," she added. Solomon's journey from confused senior to successful member of the working world may offer insight to University students now contemplating life after college. The first thing Solomon did was to put together a resume listing his education and work experience, which included working for his father, working for the Admissions Office and working at a summer camp. Through CPPS and on his own, Solomon sent out well over 100 resumes and came up with about 50 interviews, many with investment banks. He received several offers, and took a trainee position with Shearson because he "found he really liked the people there" and because "they seemed to take an interest" in him. His starting salary was $30,000 plus a $15,000 year-end bonus. Over the next two years, Solomon received an education on how the business world really works. "People coming out of school have to realize they're not there to take the world by storm," Solomon said. "We're told we are the cream of the crop, but when you come out you don't know anything. You spend a lot of time listening and learning, and because you are the low man on the totem pole, you spend a lot of time doing grunt work." Solomon quickly proved himself, and met Cohen while working on the restructuring of Shearson when it was repurchased by American Express. David Stone, one of Solomon's former classmates, advised students contemplating life in the real world to "go and find out what you want to do and go and do it -- no matter how unlikely it seems to be." Stone majored in English and Communications, and landed a theater production job on Broadway. "Going into theater is about the hardest thing you can do because there are no jobs," Stone said recently. "I lucked out and worked very hard, and I am in a very good position right now." Stone got his break by working as an intern at Jujamcyn Theaters, a company that owns five theaters on Broadway. Jujamcyn had no permanent jobs to offer Stone when he graduated, but they did refer him to several other production companies, including the one where he eventually found a job. · Debbie Aitken graduated from the University with an electrical engineering degree in 1988, and took a job with Motorola, Inc. Aitken said her communications skills and wide range of extracurricular activities were a big selling point to potential employers. "It's very helpful if you are an engineer who can also talk and do management-type things," Aitken said. "Being involved in different clubs and athletic pursuits are very helpful. When I went to interview, I didn't have a very good GPA, but I had a lot of activities." Donna Kahn Patkin, CPPS assistant director for Engineering, said that internship experience is also very important for engineers. Kahn Patkin said one reason why University engineering graduates are desired by employers is the fact that so many of them have taken liberal arts and business coursework. Employers also like the University's unique interdisciplinary programs such as Management and Technology, she said. University Engineering graduates were offered an average starting salary of $31,243 in 1989, up 6.6 percent from 1988, a CPPS survey found. University chemical engineering grads had the highest average starting salaries at $33,666. Civil engineering graduates were offered an average starting salary of $31,840, which beat the national average for civil engineers by more than $5000. Reflecting strong demand for engineers, the average number of job offers per student increased to 3.4, up from 2.5 in 1988. · Deadra Gibbons graduated from Wharton in 1987 with a concentration in accounting. She said that she found a job easily because accountants are always in demand and because she had internship experience with Chase Manhattan Bank. Gibbons took a job with Ernst and Young, a "big-eight" accounting firm, and received a starting salary of $30,000 a year. After working there for two years, she was hired away by one of the company's clients, American Express, to be a senior accountant in their general corporate accounting department. "Wharton does prepare you for the outside world," Gibbons said. Like Gibbons, Wharton students looking for jobs in the next decade will not have a very hard time finding them, said Ken Oyer, a CPPS advisor for Wharton students. "The one thing that is good about the Wharton degree is that the concentrations don't lock you out of certain fields," Oyer said. "The name recognition is also an advantage. Wharton grads are very well known. The alumns are out there. They're the leaders of corporations." Oyer said certain specialties such as investment banking and consulting are becoming more competitive, however. In 1989, Wharton graduates were offered an average starting salary of $29,637, up 6 percent from 1988 and up 31.1 percent from 1985, a CPPS survey found. · Nurses are the one group of graduates who are almost assured a job. "Right now because of the nursing shortage, nursing is very lucrative," said Lyn Escobar, a 1989 Nursing graduate now working at the New York University Medical Center. "You can find a job right off the street." "Coming from Penn, everybody knows it's a great school," Escobar added. "You really don't need a resume. You just fill out the employer's application. You look for the benefits -- who will pay for your master's [degree]. I'm doing flex-time right now. I'm only working three days a week, 12-hour shifts. A lot of my friends envy me because I have a lot of time off." A CPPS survey of 1989 Nursing graduates showed that only one nurse out of 47 respondents had not found a job straight out of school. The graduates starting salaries averaged $30,030, but CPPS Director Patricia Rose predicted that nurses' starting salaries would soon climb higher than even that of Engineering graduates.Comments powered by Disqus
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