The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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After graduation: Fewer students working in degree-related fields

By Carlos Mayorga

Since the 1950s, the proportion of college graduates in professional jobs has declined, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.

As a result, more graduates are working in service-related industries such as retail, administrative support and blue-collar work. The report indicated that this might be because of the increasing numbers of college graduates.

Tracking how former students at the U use their degrees after graduation and where they end up can be difficult to measure because it is voluntary for graduates to provide that information to the U, said Melissa Ridgway, a career counselor at the U’s Career Services.

Career Services sends out e-mail requests to all graduates and also asks students to fill out a survey at graduation to gather information on where they are working and living.

Although confidential, providing the information is not mandatory, and many former students do not report back where they are working, Ridgway said.

“We want more (former students) to participate,” she said. “If they didn’t find a job in their degree, we encourage them to come in.”

Students are eligible to use Career Services for up to two years after graduation at no cost. Services include one-on-one visits with career counselors and access to job postings, career fairs and workshops.

“For us, it’s all about the career path the students want to take and how we can help them meet those goals,” she said. “The strong majority (of U graduates) are doing something related to their degree unless they chose to work somewhere outside of their degree.”

Where students end up after graduation depends on their majors and career preferences.

The type of degree a student receives might also help determine whether they work in a degree-related field.

Students who graduate in accounting mostly end up in jobs related to that field, but it is more difficult to measure where liberal arts students end up, Ridgway said.

In the fine arts, determining who is employed in a job that pertains to a particular degree is difficult to gauge because many beginning dancers and artists have odd jobs on the side when they are first starting out, said Brent Schneider, associate dean for the College of Fine Arts.

“If you get your degree in art, open your own studio and have another job on the side, does that count?” he said, adding that many art students get jobs right out of college teaching dance in schools or working for non-profits and museums and other areas.

The Art History Students Association met Tuesday to offer advice on what students can do with their degrees after graduation. The group wants to host career-planning forums at least every two months, said Cody Lee, a senior in art history.

Lee, who plans to apply to a number of graduate schools, including the U, said that many art history students want to continue their education, so the forums will also discuss how to get into graduate school.

“A lot of students don’t really know exactly what they will do with their art history degrees,” Lee said. “We want to meet with people working in the art world so we can see where we can take our experience.”

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