Light & Verity

Looking for jobs outside the box

Gregory Nemec

Gregory Nemec

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If the scandals and the bailouts weren't enough to keep graduating seniors away from Wall Street, the job market was.

The best-known path for job-seeking Yalies is to interview with the finance and consulting firms that flock to campus each fall. But the number of offers in those fields has dropped 35 percent since 2007, reports Philip Jones, director of undergraduate career services.

Overall, employers that conducted on-campus interviews made job offers at about 80 percent of last year's rate, Jones says. That's on top of a 15 percent decline in the number of interviews themselves -- all of which means this year's crop of grads had to be more creative in their job-hunting.

Even in boom years, on-campus interviews yield employment for only 20 percent of Yale seniors, Jones emphasizes. But through one route or another, jobs in business and finance were the third most popular choice for Yale College graduates in 2006 (the most recent year available), employing 18 percent of the 986 class members surveyed one year after graduation, according to the university's Office of Institutional Research.

In tough years like this, that path gets narrower. But Jones thinks that's not all bad. "There are directions other than the traditional ones people think of, which are Wall Street, the law, and medicine," he says. "There are other ways to be happy in this world, and be useful."

Among students who did find jobs through on-campus interviews, there was a big jump in what Jones calls "structured educational" employment. Teach for America, for example -- which hires new grads for two-year stints in troubled public schools -- accepted 45 Yalies, twice as many as in 2007.

At the graduate school, employment statistics are hard to come by, says graduate career services director Victoria Blodgett. But from a quick glance at a survey taken in March when students submitted their dissertations, it appears that about 10 percent had faculty positions. An undetermined additional number had postdoctoral fellowships. But many colleges and universities were still in the midst of making offers in March, Blodgett notes. Furthermore, about half of the school's graduates seek non-academic jobs.

Also in March, the New York Times reported that the American Mathematical Society's biggest job list had shrunk 25 percent this year compared with the year before, and that 15 percent fewer history departments were recruiting new professors.

Some new PhDs are patching together opportunities -- one-year teaching positions, for example -- instead of moving straight into faculty jobs that simply don't exist. "In the next 12 months," Blodgett points out, "it's imperative that they continue to move their scholarship forward -- that they continue to publish, continue to research, so that this year doesn't appear to have been a waiting period. They have to keep going." 

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