Time reports the job market for new college grads in fields like finance, accounting and engineering is “grimmer than ever." These jobseekers should realize an abysmal job market is really nothing new, especially for students of the humanities.
While Edwin Koc at the National Association for Colleges and Employers suggests new economic realities will force humanities grads into jobs that don’t require a college degree--like Starbuck's barista--resorting to Plan B is hardly a new strategy for students who choose “boutique” degrees in arts and sciences. Finance, accounting, and engineering majors would do well to take a few pointers from their historically jobless and underemployed brethren.
Since time immemorial, employment opportunities for college grads in fields like African Studies or Art History have been slim. Liberal arts degrees have perennially implied several years of random jobs in menial industries like food service and retail. Visit any Barnes and Noble or Borders and you’ll find a high percentage of liberal arts grads working the cash registers and vacuuming the floors. Many of these individuals hold advanced degrees as well.
Let me list a few real life examples. After dancing for several seasons on a cruise ship, my college roommate with a Bachelor’s in English is now a makeup stylist for The Disney Store. My graduate school roommate holds a Master’s in African Languages and Literature and balances working as a nanny and clerking at a bookstore. A close friend with a Bachelor’s in Musicology is grocery clerk but. Unlike the others, he actually enjoys his job.
While the recession may temporarily throw college grads with historically reliable degrees into the service industry until the economy rebounds, liberal arts majors usually face a lifetime of uncertainty as they wander about world with their critical reading and analytic skills.
Academic advisors may recommend their students adjust their job-hunting strategies to rely more heavily on alumni networks and personal connections, but once again, this strategy is hardly new. Traditionally loaded resumes and stunning cover letters have rarely been the ticket to land that first-choice job, and. As Malcolm Gladwell mentions in "The Tipping Point", over half of all positions are acquired through a personal connections. So whether you’re an Accounting major or an East Asian Cultures major, it never hurts to phone a friend you barely know.
So what should finance, accounting, and engineering grads be learning from all this? In an ironic twist of fate, the downturn has equalized the job market. Humanities students can finally share their pain with their business world counterparts as they all compete for who can make the fastest vente mocciotto.