Archive for ‘college majors’

May 13, 2015

Times are ‘rough’ for new petroleum engineering grads

by Grace

What should the flood of petroleum engineering graduates do now that the oil slump has made jobs scarce?

The price of oil is down by more than 40% since June, closing Friday at $59.39 a barrel. Employment at U.S. energy companies has dropped by 6,800 jobs so far this year, according to federal data released Friday, but jobs at energy-services companies have fallen far more, by perhaps 30,000. Graves & Co., a Houston consulting company, says energy employers have announced 120,000 layoffs around the world.

So jobs are scarce for the nearly 1,800 students in the U.S. expected to graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering.

Some are going back to school for an MBA and some are taking non-engineering jobs just to get their foot in the door.

One recommendation is to try to get a job as a roughneck.  But that’s not an easy job.

20150511.COCDrilling_Roughnecks1

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Erin Ailworth, “Who Will Hire a Petroleum Engineer Now?”, Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2015.

April 7, 2015

Path to prestigious job may require a prestigious college degree

by Grace

A growing number of employers say a degree from a prestigious college counts less than it once did. But among elite finance and management-consulting firms—which offer some of the highest starting salaries for new graduates—an alma mater still matters. That puts students from less-selective schools at a disadvantage, career-services officers and students say.

A tale of two students demonstrates how the path to prestigious Wall Street jobs is easier when the starting point is an Ivy League school.

To land a summer job on Wall Street this year, Fairfield University junior Matthew Edgar sent 300 emails, made dozens of phone calls and several networking trips to New York banks from the Connecticut campus.

Darwin Li had a more direct route: The Princeton University junior applied online for positions and attended campus information sessions where company recruiters walked him through the application process and the firm’s culture.

The preferred schools vary depending on different career paths, but for Wall Street “they tend to include Ivy League schools and a handful of other elite institutions, such as Stanford University”.  Other careers have their own list of preferred schools, so the message to students with specific job goals is to do your research.

Students who do not attend preferred schools are not shut out completely, but they have to work harder.

For students at nontarget schools, the trick is finding a way into that pool. Without recruiters on campus, they must initiate a blitz of emails, calls and messages through networking sites like LinkedIn to find a banker or consultant willing to flag their application to recruiters.

Related:  If you want a job at an elite firm . . .

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Lindsay Gellman, “How 300 Emails Led to a Summer Job on Wall Street”, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015.

April 1, 2015

Pharmacy graduates are finding a softer job market

by Grace

One of America’s most reliable professions is producing too many graduates and not enough jobs

A few years ago, students enrolling in college as pharmacy majors had high hopes about lucrative careers.  Now the outlook is not so rosy.

… Even as the economy struggled in the mid-aughts, pharmacy graduates easily found big salaries, 9-to-5 jobs, and the respect that came along with handling medications. Nicholas Popovich, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, tells me that, “Some signing bonuses even involved a car, that type of thing.”

While New Republic labeled pharmacy careers to be “on the verge of a crisis”, the details don’t necessarily indicate the problem has risen to crisis level.

  • There has been a 70% increase in first-professional PharmD degree graduates from 2001 to 2011 due to the opening of new pharmacy schools and the expansion of existing programs.
  • The aggregate demand index (ADI), a tool that tracks the difficulty of filling pharmacy positions nationally, had remained relatively steady at a level of ADI = 4 (moderate demand) from 2002 to 2008 but has had a downward trend closer to 3 (demand in balance with supply) in more recent years, with several states in the Northeast region having their ADI dip below 3.
  • The anticipated role expansion and demand for pharmacists to provide direct patient care services has not come to fruition, causing a lower than expected creation of new pharmacist jobs.
  • The bottom line is that the supply of new pharmacists seems to be outpacing the creation of new jobs because the role of pharmacists has not changed as expected when pharmacy workforce needs were projected in 2001.

The number of pharmacy schools has almost doubled over 20 years alongside exuberant predictions about a boom in jobs.

… PharmD students are cash cows, taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and often committing to a longer course of study…

Meanwhile, graduates dealing with average debt loads of over $130,000 find themselves in a growing competition for jobs.

The scarcity of jobs is regional, with the Northeast and New York in particular experiencing a surplus of pharmacists.

AGGREGATE DEMAND INDEX 10-YEAR TREND

20150329.COCPharmJobsTrend2

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 Katie Zavadski, “The Pharmacy School Bubble Is About to Burst”, New Republic, September 29, 2014.

Randy P. McDonough, “Improving patient care, securing our role in health care: The time is now!”, American Pharmacists Association, November 01, 2014.

March 13, 2015

Students are ‘fleeing’ law schools and journalism, but rushing into engineering

by Grace

Enrollment slumps in law schools and college journalism programs, but booms in engineering.

US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering

… US law school enrollment is 93% of what it was in 2005, and the decline has accelerated since 2012:

20150312.COCLawSchoolEnrollmentDecline1

Engineering is the one graduate discipline that’s really exploded—enrollment has grown by 38% since 2005. It has substantially outpaced medical school, the second fastest growing graduate discipline, which has grow by 11% over the same period.

The shift reflects that, in the US, engineering degrees yield the highest salary bumps and the lowest unemployment rates:

20150312.COCEngineeringSchoolEnrollmentRise1


Journalism schools are seeing a decline.

Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount
Class Size Rose in Recession, Now Receding Again

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism will reduce its class size and cut about six positions from its staff as the news industry retrenches.

The school will gradually reduce enrollment over several years and has already stopped filling some vacant faculty positions, Steve Coll, dean of the school since 2013, said in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff today.

Interest in computer science is booming.

Columbia is seeing increased demand for training in digital media, Ms. Fishman said, adding that applications for the school’s dual degree in journalism and computer science were up 47% this year.

What’s a student to do?

Boom and bust cycles make for challenging career choices, but it’s not usually wise to pick a college major based on today’s hot jobs”.

Related:  “Dropping oil prices create concern for petroleum engineering students”

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Max Nisen, “US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering”, Quartz, March 10, 2015.

“Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount”, AdAge, March 11, 2015.

February 27, 2015

So you’re interested in a career in hotel and resort management?

by Grace

What is it like to manage a hotel, and what kind of background is needed for this career?

Here’s the story of a hotel manager who does not have a college degree, but who worked his way up from his first job as a valet.

I’m in my late twenties and I work at a major 150+ room hotel in a major city in Louisiana. My official title is “Operations Manager.” I’ve been working in hotels since 2007, first as a valet and bellman for two years at a 200 room corporately-owned resort in coastal Alabama, then at the front desk at a smaller independent hotel. After that I was a front desk agent at a 300 room corporate hotel in Dallas where I was promoted to front desk manager, and finally I moved to Louisiana a year ago. I started at my current hotel as front desk manager and was promoted to Operations Manager in a couple of months. I’ve been at this hotel for one year.

A college degree may be the preferred way to enter this field, but another way is through “a beastly work ethic”.

To get my first hotel job I just walked in and applied. It’s easy to get an entry level position. To be an Operations Manager, you usually need a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management/Business or, like me, a beastly work ethic, willingness to go above and beyond expectations, work long hours, and volunteer to take on tasks around the hotel that go outside of your job description.

A degree can offer specialization in various areas, including travel and tourism.

Hospitality management, or hospitality administration, is a large field with an array of majors. Depending on your interest and skills, you can pursue degrees centered on hotel management, travel and tourism, conference or event management, the restaurant industry and more. A course of study can cover everything from business to food science to botany, and internships and assistantships are typical components as well.

U.S. News offers information about hospitality management scholarships.

TheBestSchools.org* ranked hospitality management four-year college programs, including these top five:

  1. Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration
  2. Michigan State University, School of Hospitality Business
  3. University of Nevada at Las Vegas, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
  4. Fairleigh Dickinson University, International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
  5. Virginia Tech, Pamplin College of Business, Dept. of Hospitality and Tourism Management

An associate’s degree in hospitality management is another way to prepare for a career in this field.

The bad news is that competition is tough for the best jobs.

Job growth in management positions is projected to show little or no growth over the next several years, even though growth in tourism and travel is predicted to be robust.  Like many other segments of the economy, the hospitality industry is streamlining operations, leading to scaled-back staffing.  Median salary in 2012 was $46,810.

In New York, SUNY at Delhi is a state school that offers a BBA Hospitality Management: Hotel and Resort Management.  Their students can participate in the Walt Disney College Program.

… Through this program, students work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for six months in a unique working/learning experience. Students can now earn SUNY Delhi course credit for the Disney courses offered as part of this program while they are working at Disney. Any student interested in this special program option should discuss it with his/her advisor early in their Delhi career. Disney courses include Communications, Leadership, Hospitality Management, Human Resources Management, Disney Marketing U, and Disney Experiential Learning.

It sounds like a good program for the right type of students, but I wonder if they are the target of jokes about their “Mickey Mouse” degree.

* ADDED:  Thebestcolleges.org doesn’t disclose its ranking method, but their list can be a starting place to find colleges that offer hospitality management major.  The College Board is another resource to use for finding and evaluating schools.

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Andy Orin, “Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Hotel Manager”, Lifehacker, January 20, 2015.

Matt Konrad, “Check Into These Hospitality Management Scholarships”, U.S. News, March 20, 2014.

February 17, 2015

Online master’s degrees in education have gone mainstream

by Grace

… As online programs have grown in popularity, online master’s in education degrees have become more acceptable, experts say….

In some cases, Horn says, ​schools don’t even indicate the mode of instruction on degrees and transcripts, which means school officials only see the program or school name anyway.​

Even in cases where an online degree is obvious, it rarely matters in public school districts, experts say. In the K-12 world, at least, online master’s degrees in education are so common that employers don’t think of them much at all​, Horn says. Those in hiring positions who have been to school recently have taken a blended or fully online course, so they know the classes can be just as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts.

Of course, students must cover the basics in selecting their online provider, making sure the school is accredited and that the program will lead to the desired state license.

Best Online Graduate Education Programs — U.S. News & World Report

  1. University of Houston — Houston, TX
  2. Florida State University — Tallahassee, FL
  3. Northern Illinois University — DeKalb, IL
  4. Pennsylvania State University—World Campus — University Park, PA

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Devon Haynie, “What Employers Think of Your Online Master’s in Education”, US News & World Report, Feb. 13, 2015.

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February 5, 2015

These days it’s tough for a new teacher to get a job in New York

by Grace

New college graduates in New York find there are too many teachers and not enough jobs.

Of the 15,102 candidates who were certified in 2011-12, only 4,289 were employed in the state’s public schools, including charters, as of October 2013….

Tiffany MacPeek gave up her dream of getting a teaching job and now works in medical billing.

“If I knew it was this hard to get a teaching job, I would have picked something completely different in college,” MacPeek said. “All I knew was teaching is a great field. No one told me.”

Colleges are producing too many teacher candidates, but they don’t believe it is their responsibility to proactively educate students about that problem.

Experts say an oversupply of teachers, particularly in elementary education, is being churned out by teacher-preparation programs. They say colleges don’t do a good job of forecasting hiring needs or of adequately informing students of their employment prospects….

Colleges have a responsibility to provide students with projections on their future employment, said Ken Wagner, senior deputy commissioner for education policy at the state Education Department….

Not our job

Colleges say it’s not their responsibility to proactively educate students on their job prospects. Nor, they say, is it possible to predict the job market.

Students need to take more initiative researching job prospects because colleges are often not very helpful.

Posamentier said colleges should not be in the business of telling students what they should or should not study.

“It’s a free market and we don’t guarantee jobs, just like law schools or MBA programs,” he said. “These are big boys and girls. We will always let students know if they ask, but who am I to say, ‘You need to do this, not that?'”

This is in contrast to schools like Texas A&M, which proactively warned petroleum engineering students to be realistic about future job growth.

State officials are among those who believe colleges should be more proactive in informing students about weak career prospects.

Colleges have a responsibility to provide students with projections on their future employment, said Ken Wagner, senior deputy commissioner for education policy at the state Education Department.

Some areas of teaching remain in demand.

The colleges are graduating too many elementary education students and not enough in such areas as English language learners, special education and high school math and physics, he said.

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Venugopal Ramaswamy, “Tough job market for NY teacher candidates”, The Journal News, February 1, 2015.

January 12, 2015

Dropping oil prices create concern for petroleum engineering students

by Grace

Plunging oil prices have raised the level of anxiety among college students pursuing petroleum-related degrees.

When Daniel Forero left home in California to pursue a petroleum engineering degree at Texas A&M University, he thought his career prospects were strong.

As the energy sector flourished, many around him pointed to a petroleum engineering degree as a surefire ticket to success in the age of the American oil boom.

But as oil prices continue to plummet – they reached five-year lows last week – Forero, now a senior, is quickly getting a harsh lesson in the cyclical nature of the energy business.

“What I kept hearing was ‘there’s plenty of jobs in this industry,’ ” Forero said. “Now that I’ve gotten to this point, it doesn’t seem that way.”

Well, two years ago Texas A&M was warning petroleum engineering students about the “sustainability of the entry level job market” given the explosive growth in the numbers of students in that field.  The price of oil was not guaranteed to keep rising forever, and smart people could have predicted this turn of events.

“They talk about oil prices going down, enrollment going up, and say ‘you’re in engineering – you do the math,’ ”

The bad news keeps coming.

Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar hinted at job cuts in an email telling employees that “2015 is going to be a tough year.” A week earlier, the company — which counts on oil producers as customers for its oil-field services — announced 1,000 layoffs in the Eastern Hemisphere.

BP, the London-based international integrated oil company, already has said it will cut an unspecified number of midlevel supervisors in its oil production and refining businesses, as well as some back-office jobs.

Meanwhile, big independent producers including Marathon, ConocoPhillips and Apache say they’ll cut their 2015 capital budgets. While those budgets don’t include salaries, the figures are a sign of a more conservative approach.

Engineers and others with strong experience are less at risk for losing jobs, but new college graduates may find it tough to snare high-paying jobs.  Anxious students will be looking closely at hiring patterns over the next six to ten months.

… as oil prices fall and enrollment rises, some students are considering pursuing master’s degrees to avoid entering the workforce when companies are scaling back. Others are looking into sales or surveying positions – jobs that would get them into the industry but wouldn’t necessarily take advantage of their engineering degrees.

The boom and bust nature of the oil business is very familiar to me.  I was working as an exploration geologist during the oil bust of the 1980s, and left the industry to make a career change that turned out well.  Many others did too.  Even though current conditions provoke anxiety among students aspiring to lucrative oil industry jobs, chances are they have skills that will transfer to other fields.  Although it’s disappointing now, it’s helpful to take the long view.

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Ryan Holeywell, “Campus anxiety rises as crude price falls”, Houston Chronicle, December 12, 2014.

Ryan Holeywell, “With oil layoffs likely, it helps to be experienced and tech-savvy”, Houston Chronicle, December 26, 2014.

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December 22, 2014

Will a nurse soon replace your general practitioner doctor?

by Grace

According to Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writing in The Week, some types of doctors will soon become as rare as the “dodo bird”.

… look at the future of the general practitioner of medicine. This is considered the epitome of the high-skilled, secure, remunerative job. Four years of college! Four years of medical school! Internship! Residency! Government-protected cartel membership!

And yet, this profession is going the way of the dodo bird.

To understand why, the first thing you need to understand is that multiple studies have shown that software is better able to diagnose illnesses, with fewer misdiagnoses. Health wonks love this trend, known as evidence-based diagnosis, and medical doctors loathe it, because who cares about saving lives when you can avoid the humiliation of having a computer tell you what to do.

Then you need to look at companies like Theranos, which allow you to get a blood test cheaply and easily at Walgreens, and get more information about your health than you’d get in a typical doctor’s visit.

A nurse and a computer will replace the “general practitioner”.

But, you say, we won’t be able to get rid of the human general practitioner absolutely. People will still need human judgment, and the human touch.

You are right — absolutely right. But the human we need is someone with training closer to a nurse’s than a doctor’s, and augmented by the right software, would be both cheaper and more effective than a doctor. You might pay a monthly subscription to be able to treat this person as your family “doctor” — although most of your interaction would be with software via an app. They’d be better than a doctor, too — trained in general wellness and prevention, and being able to refer you to specialists if need be.

Related:  ‘Nurse practitioners are projected to nearly double in number by 2025′

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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, “How computers will replace your doctor”, The Week, December 15, 2014.

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December 8, 2014

Only the elite can afford to teach anthropology in college

by Grace

Anthropology PhD graduates should not be surprised and maybe should not complain if their job options are limited after graduation.

There are too many people with PhDs in anthropology and not enough people studying it, so the universities can hire faculty at lower wages. To make matters worse, the universities sold a bright future of stable employment and a cool job in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This generation of grad students simply wound up on the dumping end of a Ponzi scheme.

Blogger at Blackmailers Don’t Shoot asks why “brilliant” academics can’t understand the laws of supply and demand when he reads this from a struggling anthropology PhD:

In May 2012, I received my PhD, but I still do not know what to do with it. I struggle with the closed off nature of academic work, which I think should be accessible to everyone, but most of all I struggle with the limited opportunities in academia for Americans like me, people for whom education was once a path out of poverty, and not a way into it.

The law of supply and demand would seem to be at the root of the adjunct problem.

67 per cent of American university faculty are part-time employees on short-term contracts [AP]

Here’s the harsh reality.

Welcome to the job market. You need them more than they need you….

The market spoke. You’re not as valuable as you would have been 50 years ago, and unless thousands of anthropology professors suddenly drop dead tomorrow, that will not likely change. It’s not personal. It’s not a conspiracy. There are simply too many people who want a job with lots of time off from which they cannot be fired.

Of course, this is also true of many other social science and humanities disciplines.  I suspect most students are waking up to this reality.

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