Morgan Nowland, from Atlanta, Ga., graduated in April. With his bachelor’s degree in sociology, Nowland wants to work for the government doing research to better understand different cultures.
“What I’ve been able to find out about (the available jobs) is very limited,” Nowland said. “We’ll see, I don’t know how difficult it would be.”
With 11.7 million unemployed Americans, this year’s graduates face a tough employment arena. Some industries are relatively safe while others don’t look as promising. Professionals from different industries give their insight and useful tips about what graduating students should expect when they enter the workforce in a particular field.
Sociology: Most sociologists, for example, work in research organizations, colleges and universities, state and local government and consulting service firms.
“A lot of times we’re told as undergraduates if you want a job in sociology, you need to get a master’s,” Nowland said. He is right — most of the jobs in sociology require a master’s degree, but there are always exceptions.
Even though MaKayla Belen never got a master’s degree, she was able to find a job at Heritage School in intensive support area. Belen loves her job helping at-risk adolescents.
“Sociology jobs are very rewarding, but at times they can be very emotionally draining,” Belen said. “If a person is not emotionally healthy in every aspect of his or her life, then it will be hard to help others with their lives.”
Electrical engineering: Michael Rice is an associate editor for Command, Control and Communications for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic systems. Rice also teaches electrical engineering at BYU, and he worked as a consultant to industry and government.
“The advantages of an electrical engineering job are many,” Rice said. “Employment opportunities are good and plentiful, the pay is good, and the work is rewarding. The disadvantages are that it can be hard and stressful.”
Electrical engineers work in industries as diverse as education and research, telecommunications, energy and electric power, aerospace, bioengineering, manufacturing, transportation and automotive.
“Find the speciality that interests you and embrace it,” Rice said. “Don’t go in half-way.”
Law: BYU Law School is one of the top law schools in the nation. It is difficult to get in, but the difficulties are not over once the students are in the program. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 40,000 students enter the law-job market annually, but chances to get a job in law are only a little bit better than 50/50.
Keith Miller has been working in law for more than 20 years and is a shareholder in Heller Ehrman LLP, which provides legal services.
“At its best, the work is both interesting and challenging,” Miller said. “In general, I start working with a company almost from inception and there is a real excitement that comes from helping to build a new enterprise. There is also a strong sense of comraderie and shared sacrifice working in a firm with similarly-focused attorneys and other professionals.”
Being a lawyer also means long hours, constant stress and often unpredictable schedules.
“Once when I was a young associate and not yet married, my father came to visit me for a week,” Miller said. “And I was unable to spend any time with him as I was staffed on a busy deal that required me to be in the office until 1 a.m. or later every night. I felt so bad, but there was nothing I could do.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that there are more lawyers in the country than open positions and that is the main difficulty of getting a job for graduates that want to get a job in law.
“Tuition is so high now and there is such a glut of attorneys on the market that only a relatively small percentage of new law school graduates are able to get good jobs out of law school,” Miller said. “Most folks coming out of law school now have high debt and slim job prospects, which is never a good combination.”
Exercise science: Students with exercise science degree can become personal trainers, cardio specialists, fitness club managers and other positions that have to do with health and exercise.
Levi Pratt is a personal trainer who has been working for himself for about a year.
“A lot of people expect personal training to be just like what they see on TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser,’ but it really is not the case,” Pratt said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be as intense and that I wasn’t going to be screaming at clients every day to get them to finish a sit up.”
There are typically a lot of entry-level job opportunities as a personal trainer, such as local gyms around town. Pratt said that better paying and more prestigious personal training opportunities are harder to come by and require a great level of expertise and experience.
“An advantage to the job as a personal trainer is that it can pay well while you are working with clients,” Pratt said. “However, it can be difficult to find clients to work with.”