Despite economy, Bowdoin alumni thrive
Anne Shields, Director of the Career Planning Center (CPC),
wants to reassure Bowdoin students: post-graduation employment is not
a "doom and gloom" scenario. As a matter of fact, it looks more
If one were to browse statistics of the class of 2000, one
would see Asian studies, economics, and history majors alike working as
high-paid analysts at leading investment-banks.
Granted, 173 members or 43.5 percent of the class were seeking
employment at the time of graduation. However, that number dwindled to
2 percent within less than a year. By then, 80 percent were employed,
15 percent in were graduate school, and 3 percent were traveling.
According to the fall 2001 salary survey conducted by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), many disciplines
within the liberal arts saw an increase in salary since 2000.
Starting salaries for English major graduates rose by 6.5
percent to an average of $30,014. For sociology majors, they rose by 6
percent to an average of $29, 571, and for psychology majors, they rose
by 4 percent to an average of $29, 952.
Shields said not to panic about statistics quoted by the
national media that college hiring is expected to drop severely.
Most of these statistics also come from the NACE. However,
the employers represented by NACE, she explained, are disproportionately
comprised of engineering, high tech, and "Big Business" firms
such as Ford, General Motors, and Proctor & Gamble. Among them is
Motorola, which probably hires 4,500 new graduates-nearly all engineers-per
year. Thus, Bowdoin College graduates will not be directly affected by
Motorola's employment practices.
In general, many of the companies represented by NACE do
not hire Bowdoin graduates to begin with.
Whether the economy heads into a full-fledged recession
or not, many industries will still be hiring. The College, Shields gave
as an example, will not be employing less people overall, though they
may not hire as many if employees stay longer than previously anticipated.
Furthermore, many companies that took heavy human losses
during last week's attack will need to employ new people. Shields reminds
students that they are still in the top ten percent of their high school
classes and thus more competitive than roughly 90 percent of their peers.
She pointed out, though, that a tighter job market "does
mean it's going to be harder to find employment. You may have to work
longer and harder. And in some fields, jobs will be fewer."
Most employers are still coming to recruit on-schedule.
She admitted, "We [the CPC] have had some employers who won't be
coming to campus physically." Resumé referrals, interviews
onsite rather than on-campus, will be available instead. Also, recruiting
events in Boston and New York City are still taking place as planned.
Shields said it is still too early know if an increase in
graduate school applications will occur. According to CPC statistics,
the number of Bowdoin students attending graduate school upon graduation
decreased from 20 people in the class of 1996 to 9 in the class of 2000.
Lisa Tessler, Director of the newly formed Alumni Career
Programs (ACP) and former Director of the CPC for ten years, possessed
more current information about interest in graduate school.
ACP, founded in August 2000, is an innovative effort to
provide career-counseling services to alumni, especially those who have
graduated within the last five years. Tessler helps those who want to
switch jobs, are out of work, or are contemplating graduate school.
The number of alumni contacting her for counseling has at
least doubled in the past year. She cannot be sure if this increase in
phone calls and e-mails is due to the economy or because the service is
better known or both.
So far, only a small number of students from last year's
class have contacted her, perhaps five in the last month. Judging from
calls she has received, though, Tessler predicts "heightened interest
in graduate school."
Tessler also continues to hear from alumni who want to help
graduates and current students alike. Many alumni call with job openings
that Tessler then puts onto a database accessible through Polar Net. Over
1,450 alumni volunteers from all over the country are also involved in
the Bowdoin Career Advisory Network (BCAN), accessible through Polar Net,
too. With its mission to "share their time and expertise with students
and recent graduates", BCAN has been in existence for over 15 years.
Tessler is continually looking to expand this networking operation and
Tessler has also planned 12 career-networking receptions
specifically for alumni with other networking events in New York City,
Boston, and possibly Washington, D.C. for current students.
Networking may well be among a student's most powerful assets
in seeking employment. For the class of 2000, according to Shields, over
half of those employed upon graduation had obtained their position through
networking and other such contacts.
Additionally, Tessler has various site visits planned for
students. For example, on Tuesday, October 9, there will be a site visit
to LL Bean. Attendees will meet the company's Senior Vice President and
General Manager and learn about business management from him. She encourages
those interested to sign up for this unique educational opportunity.
More immediately, the ACP and CPC have an educational panel, "Beyond Bowdoin", planned for Friday, September 28, to be held in Moulton Union. Twenty-two alumni will be at the panel to give students advice on how best to look for and apply to jobs. Tessler strongly urges students to attend the Beyond Bowdoin forum. Brochures for it will be in mailboxes Monday.