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Fair share of careers

Editorial Board | Friday, September 9, 2011

Stress. High pressure. Competition.

That’s the atmosphere on campus right now. Two career fairs were held this week and all eyes are on the prize — an internship or full-time offer. Particularly for seniors, all talk is of resumes and job interviews. Many students have already secured jobs and many more will be interviewing for positions in the coming weeks.

But for those still looking, the focus on landing that job right now, as many of our peers are doing, only makes the task seem more daunting.

Of the 12 members of the Observer Editorial Board, only one currently has a job offer for after graduation. We are comprised of one graduate student, seven seniors, including one from Saint Mary’s, three juniors and one sophomore and represent 18 different majors, ranging from Arts & Letters to Business to pre-med.

Of these 12 people, only three even considered going to yesterday’s Career Fair. The prevailing thought amongst us, and amongst a large population of the Notre Dame student body, is that there is no point in going to the career fair.

Even with so many companies attending, there are few that hold career prospects or interest for students with interests outside of business or engineering. While large groups of students in business attire wandered through the Joyce Center Fieldhouse handing out resumes and meeting company representatives, many sat at home, discouraged at their lack of job prospects.

Engineers had their career fair Tuesday, architecture students will have theirs in March and last night served much of the business school and a selection of Arts & Letters majors.

The Fall Career Fair offered fantastic opportunities for students interested in industries such as finance, banking and technology. However, for students hoping to pursue careers outside of these fields, the night offered few draws.

Unfortunately, the Fall Career Fair has always held more opportunities for business majors. While Arts & Letters students can look forward to a service fair and the Winter Career and Internship Fair, the pressure and prevailing attitude on campus to find a job now is overwhelming. And with employment rates still running low, especially for recent college graduates, it’s no wonder students who don’t have a business major feel the pressure to choose something more “practical.”

For students following career paths outside of those represented at the Fair, the Career Center is a fantastic resource for those willing to seek out its assistance.

The Center’s advisors have helped countless students to find jobs outside of the Career Fair and will continue to do so.

It is easy to be stressed as those around you secure their post-graduation plans, but jobs exist beyond the month of October.

But many students do not know how to begin seeking out those opportunities.

While the Mendoza College of Business does a fantastic job preparing its students for future careers both inside and out of the classroom, Arts & Letters students gain little of this insight during their course work.

Even for those seeking a post-graduate degree, little help is offered.

The Career Center does offer resources for those applying to graduate schools, but with the multitude of fields that make up the College of Arts & Letters, it would be difficult for the Career Center to have a good handle on each one.

Currently the best way for a Notre Dame student applying to graduate programs to find help is to contact a professor directly, someone who has gone through the process before.

The Career Center, the College itself or the individual departments should be making more of an effort to facilitate this mentoring.

The College of Arts & Letters, as well as the departments under its umbrella, should consider taking a page from Mendoza’s book — tell your students a career exists for them outside the classroom and how the skills they have developed within their major are beneficial across many industries.

Encourage students to explore the countless jobs available and cultivate more resources and connections to aid them as the business, engineering and architecture schools do.

Similarly, offer more assistance and resources for those applying to graduate programs or preparing for other post-graduate opportunities.

Arts & Letters majors often feel intimidated when preparing for graduation and incompetent compared to their peers who secure jobs so early in the year.

These students are capable and the opportunities exist, but without the same degree of assistance offered to so many other majors and career focuses, Arts & Letters majors, or any student unsure of their future career, often feel stuck.

With more resources, better contacts and a greater emphasis on career exploration, the many campus departments and institutions could relieve some of this burden and lead their students to greater success and reduced stress in their search for a job.