Shaping your future
Aug 22: Looking for a job when you get out of college? Choosing the right major now
improves your chances of finding a job later, an expert says.
As college students get ready to wind up the school year, many will chose
majors, devoting their studies to a particular field with the hope of finding a
job - and possibly a career - when they graduate.
So where are the
In years past, computer sciences and computer engineering were the
places to be. A major in those subjects helped a student's possibility of
landing a job when they left school.
"The quintessential example of that
right now would probably be nursing," said Carl E. Van Horn, director of the
John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in New
Brunswick. "There are certain areas where there is a severe labor shortage in a
particular occupation. And so if you time it right, you can get a
But before students launch into a choice of a major based on the
job market, they need to step back, said one college career
Choosing a major just to find a job may lead to a wrong fit
for the person and a bad experience at work, said Steven Fusco, director of
career development at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.
should spend time exploring their abilities and interests before finding out
what jobs are out there, he said. "It's still important for the individual to
kind of follow their interests and make sure their skills apply to the career
Then they should look at the job market, he said. "Hopefully they
are in fields that are fast growing," Fusco said. "While not requiring a college
degree, we certainly wouldn't want anybody to go out as a farrier, somebody who
shoes horses, because there are limited opportunities for that."
are the jobs?
There are several "very hot" majors right now, Van Horn
For instance, there's a need for mathematicians. "It relates to so
many things and we have huge undersupply of mathematicians in this country," Van
Many math majors are foreign students who return home after
college, he said. "They are lost to our labor market," Van Horn said.
you are a math major right now, you are going to get a job, but you are not
going to get the best job unless you get a master's degree or a
Employers are hiring scientists, including those who specialize in
life science, physics and chemistry. Potential jobs could include working in a
testing lab or in the biotech industry.
"Even in the sales area,
pharmaceutical (companies) would rather have a person with a science background
and a business interest as opposed to someone who is a business person and
doesn't know science," Van Horn said.
And there is still a need for
software engineers, said William Hill, assistant dean of placement and student
employment at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. Companies still are
developing hardware and software, he said. "Technology hasn't slowed down one
People with an expertise in languages, such as Chinese or Arabic,
are sought after by business and government, Van Horn said. "If you are a global
company, you are looking for people who speak that language."
business-related fields, such as economists and accountants, are in demand.
Accountants are needed as businesses work to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
2002, Van Horn said.
The aging of America also points the way to jobs now
and in the future.
"As people grow older and live longer, I think the
support services, such as social services, nurses, home care aides, any position
that manages or supervises those positions, I think will be a growth industry,"
But while the job market is hot now for nurses, mathematicians
and linguists, a student with a liberal arts degree still can get a
Most employers still are looking for students with liberal arts
degrees, said Rob Franek, vice president and publisher of The Princeton
"In a liberal arts context, students are forced to become
Renaissance people," Franek said. "They are forced to learn and be able to
function, speaking and writing competently about a great cross section of
Many also work well in a group as well, he said.
"Those things are attractive to employers."
Liberal arts degrees also are
a way toward a specialized field or a graduate degree, he said. "A liberal arts
degree truly qualifies them to do most anything."
Students can use there
skill from a liberal arts education in other ways to make a living.
you study literary criticism that helps your critical thinking skills and it
teaches you how to write," said Van Horn. "Then you have to figure out some way
to apply those skills in order to get paid."