Every student will face a time in their college career when they must decide if a bachelor’s degree is enough to propel them to where they want to be in life.
Taking advantage of Career Fairs and Career Services is helpful for that decision, Director of Career Services Martin Shibata said. Counselors are available to work with students and prepare them to make those career choices.
“We want you to leave Cal Poly with not only the academic and knowledge skills,” Shibata said, “but we want you to be able to have the career skills to make those choices and changes after you leave here.”
There are a lot of variables that affect the decision of whether to attend graduate school or start in the job market, he said.
If students have the opportunity and financial means to go to graduate school, Shibata advises that they take advantage of it, he said.
“It’s pretty evident of that now, because it’s such a global market,” Shibata said. “And that everybody is catching up in the world in terms of education, those prospective graduates who have a graduate degree will be in a better position.”
Cal Poly’s (4+1) Program is a good program to take advantage of, graduate student Kyle Krainer said, especially with the diminishing value of an undergraduate education.
“The bachelor’s is like the new high school diploma,” Krainer said.
His initial reasoning for going to graduate school was pressure from family, he said. The fact graduate school could be continued at Cal Poly made him more motivated.
“I was already here, all I basically had to do was continue going to school,” Krainer said. “Transition over, apply, get accepted, it was all a pretty easy process.”
Krainer hopes his master’s degree in biomedical engineering will help set him up in the higher range of pay, which was a major motivating factor for him, he said.
Krainer wasn’t ready for pressures of an adult job yet, either, he said.
“The beginning of my senior year, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Krainer said. “Staying in grad school helped me grow up a little bit more, and now I feel more comfortable going into the real world.”
One positive thing of starting to work right away is earning income, career counselor for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Annie Hammond said.
“For some students, having a break from school is really helpful for them to revitalize and recharge,” Hammond said. “I think really importantly, it helps them figure out what their career interests are.”
Graduate school makes a student an expert in a particular area, Hammond said. If students don’t know what they want to do, they shouldn’t attend graduate school.
With the economic downturn of a few years ago, Hammond saw more students using grad school as a filler, she said.
“That’s a lot of time, energy and money you’re investing in pursuing that additional schooling, you want to know that that is something you want to become and expert in,” Hammond said.
It’s hard for people who go straight through to a master’s of business administration, or MBA, program to get the kinds of jobs they’re expecting because employers and jobs value knowledge and work experience, she said.
“If you have learned a lot about business, but you have no experience in business, you are probably not as employable,” Hammond said.
Students should research how many jobs are available in their field, she said.
“If you know the type of job you’re looking for, do a little research on websites or talking to people in industry,” Hammond said.
Her biggest advice for graduating students is to give their wildest dream a shot.
“If you have a dream, use all your resources, meet with your career counselor, get your family’s support, do everything you can and try to see,” Hammond said.
Career Services is finding that a lot of students are going to be faced with multiple career choices during their lifetime, Shibata said. One should be open to all the opportunities available, he said.
“You need to be open because when opportunity strikes, you may go in a totally different direction,” Shibata said.