As our economy continues to falter by the ongoing recession, many UC Davis students find themselves re-evaluating their future career plans and exploring paths they otherwise wouldn‘t have considered.
Eddie Birnbaum, a fifth-year senior engineering major, is one student who had to do so.
Birnbaum initially applied to UC Davis as an engineering major under the pretense that he would have a promising job waiting for him immediately after he was done with four-to-five years of schooling. But through the years, Birnbaum‘s plans started to change.
“Over the progression of my education, I started leaning more towards grad school,“ Birnbaum said. “Professors and colleagues clued me in that [grad school] would be a prerequisite in the future, more so with the recession pushing people back into education.“
In light of the recession, students like Birnbaum have chosen higher education over immediately entering the job market. Others have switched to majors that seem to provide more promising careers.
“People always say that the world will always need health care and engineering, but the science and engineering fields should be just as nervous,“ Birnbaum said. “It is becoming common knowledge that [these fields] are good to be in, so it‘s becoming more competitive.“
The competition that the recession is causing is not confined solely within the UC Davis classroom. A recent graduate and community regional development major, Ben Dines, has felt the competition within the workplace after leaving UC Davis as well.
“It‘s uncomfortable when you go into a job interview and you see someone across from you in the waiting room who is 40 years old,“ Dines said.
Dines has been searching for jobs with the public sector, which he says has been difficult because the government has made a lot of budget cuts that have directly impacted funding for employees.
This decline in resources has caused many employers to seek out prospects with more experience than the average college graduate.
Justin Baker, a recent UC Davis graduate and a future University of Southern California graduate student has felt the full weight of this competition.
“Because of the current economy, recent graduates need exceptional post-graduate education, a B.A. or B.S. degree just doesn‘t cut it anymore,“ Baker said. “So, this is why I decided that I needed to pursue education beyond a bachelor‘s.“
The process of getting hired for a job has changed vastly over the course of a few years, Dines said.
“A couple of years ago, [employers] paid for training and held your hand as they familiarized you with everything,“ Dines said. “Now they don‘t have the resources to get someone [inexperienced] on board. They end up hiring people with 10, 12 or 15 years of experience.“
Much like Birnbaum, Dines entered UC Davis envisioning that he would find work immediately after his four-year education.
“I wanted to go straight into work and get some real-life experience in a public sector for an environmental consultancy or in municipal planning,“ Dines said. But because of the harsh economy, Dines is still searching for a suitable job and, in the mean time, working at Papa Murphy‘s while working an unpaid internship.
Tarick Abu-Aly, a senior civil engineering major, has also experienced trouble securing a job because of the economy.
“With the economy in the state that it is in, many qualified engineers are getting laid off,“ Abu-Aly said. “This means we graduates are competing with experienced engineers for entry-level positions. I‘ve got my student loans weighing me down, so that puts a lot of pressure on me to find a job when I graduate so I can start to repay them.“
While the recession is affecting students who are trying to obtain jobs from the degree they are majoring in, it is also affecting those whose college major doesn‘t reflect the career they are pursuing.
Matt Closson, a senior history major, had initially planned to join the army. Typically when joining the army, there is a 270-day wait for UC Davis graduates to receive training and pay after they have applied.
“Due to the economy, more and more soldiers are staying in the army,“ Closson said. “This means that there is less money to go around and therefore, the new officers cannot be hired at their schools and must wait it out.“
This situation has caused Closson to reformat his living situation.
“This isn’t so much a problem for guys that have short wait times, but for us at Davis, it‘s a killer,“ Closson said. “I am moving back home since rent is free – as is the food. I have applied to all sorts of places – Home Depot, Safeway, car shops [and others] and am waiting back on a word. The big hassle is that no one wants to hire someone for only eight months.“
While the recession is affecting many students at UC Davis, there are some who aren‘t as worried about it.
Kayleen Rogers, a fifth-year senior human development major, has not felt the many repercussions that many others are. Rogers wants to become a nurse, which she said she feels is a profession not affected by the recession.
“I‘ve dreamed of being a nurse since I was in eighth grade though, and I still feel like that‘s attainable,“ she said.
INDU SUDHAKAR can be reached at email@example.com.