Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Report: College Graduates Should Look For a Job In...Journalism?

I live in a college town where the second week of May means one thing: graduation. It's that magical time of year when a degree is awarded to the deserving and I can finally find a parking space because all the students are leaving town.

Hey, everybody wins.

Graduation means one thing to graduates, too: moving in with mom and dad, sleeping in until noon and playing video games until dinner's ready. Oh, I'm joking. Many of them will be looking for their first "real job" that doesn't involve babysitting, waiting tables or making lattes. Besides, most 22-year-olds who have gotten a taste of freedom at college would rather live just about anywhere else other than with mom and dad. They know the honeymoon would soon end and mom would start saying, "Did you make your bed yet? I get tired of having to nag you about it. And comb your hair!" There's never a free lunch, as they say.

Of course this year's crop of college graduates faces the worst hiring market since Milli Vanilli got busted for faking vocals on songs with ironic titles such as "Girl You Know It's True." So what are this year's college graduates to do? Well, the UC San Diego Extension released a report today listing the 14 hottest jobs for new college graduates. Here's the list:

1. Health information technology
2. Clinical trials design and management for oncology
3. Data mining
4. Embedded engineering
5. Feature writing for the web
6. Geriatric health care
7. Mobile media
8. Occupational health and safety
9. Spanish/English translation and interpretation
10. Sustainable business practices and the greening of all jobs
11. Teaching adult learners
12. Teaching English as a foreign language
13. Marine biodiversity and conservation
14. Health law

So health care, technology, education, the sciences and journalism ("feature writing for the web") are where the jobs are for today's college graduates. Hmmm, journalism? Are the researchers sure about that one? The media world is as stable as a tea cup balancing on a sharpened pencil standing on a plate in an earthquake. Even Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is looking for a job. But okay, I'll play along.

It seems like some of these jobs - most notably health law and management for oncology - might require a MBA or J.D. to make a candidate truly competitive, which means another one to three years of graduate school. Liberal arts majors will have the hardest time finding a job, but what else is new. The plight of the liberal arts major has been going on for decades. The French literature majors among us knock around the workplace for a year or two, then go back to graduate school to study something that's actually useful. It's a timeless tradition; just ask a Gen Xer. But they're very good at taking essay tests and know a good baguette when they see one, so take that all you engineering majors!

In all seriousness however, today's college graduates should be realistic and willing to start somewhere even if it's in the proverbial mail room. This isn't a time to make excessive salary and job title demands. The smart graduates will find a spot and take it even if it's not a dream job. They'll take their knocks, learn all they can, listen and observe. They'll work hard and have a sense of humility. They'll also have good manners, something no university can really teach. The complaint I hear most about 20-something workers is that they lack social skills in business situations. Social skills go a long way in the workplace. But hey, if you screw up there's always grad school, right?

You'll find the full report that covers the researchers' reasoning for choosing these professions right here.

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