University News

Confidence in job prospects varied

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
This article is part of the series Fall 2011 Student Poll

Corner office or a corner in your parents’ basement? Students reported varying levels of confidence in their ability to obtain a desirable job after graduation in a recent Herald poll.

According to the poll, 28.4 percent of students are somewhat worried about obtaining desirable jobs after graduation, and 7.5 percent are very worried. Of those who identified as very worried, 10.8 percent are female, compared to 3.6 percent who are male.

But 27.8 percent of students said they are somewhat confident and 15.0 percent said they are very confident about getting a job. Of the very confident students, 20.1 percent are male and 10.6 percent are female.

About 18.2 percent said they are neither worried nor confident.

Despite a 9 percent unemployment rate nationwide, “we don’t see Brown students in a state of wholesale unemployment,” said Andrew Simmons, director of the CareerLAB.

“It doesn’t matter if the economy is bad or good, it’s inevitable that this is a very anxious time for anyone, getting towards the end of college,” he said. “Our basic message is always the same, which is you’ve gotten a great education at Brown, you’ve got great skills.”

But many students are concerned about the job market. “It’s a really tough market, and there’s lots of competition,” said Evan Gill ’12, an economics concentrator.

Many students also said they think career advising at Brown could be improved. “There’s no one organized place where I can see all the advising and find someone to help me pinpoint what I want to do and explore career opportunities,” Gill said.

Some seniors have already found jobs. Drew Kunas ’12 interned as a quantitative analyst at Two Sigma Investments LLC over the summer and was offered a job there.

Kunas is an applied math concentrator, and he said he thinks his rigorous concentration coursework made him an attractive hire. “Hard sciences are more career practical,” he said.

Anny Li ’15 also said she saw a discrepancy in the degree to which concentrations prepare students for the job market. “I do think certain concentrations are more employable than others, such as engineering or science concentrations,” she said.

“We don’t necessarily have data that shows any particular correlation between concentrations and jobs, but what matters to employers is going to vary a lot depending on what that job is,” Simmons said. “Concentration, of course, is only one part of your education at Brown.”

Simmons added he does not believe more students are going to graduate or professional schools to build their resumes in order to make themselves look more employable. He said about a quarter of the graduating class will go right to graduate or professional school, but over the longer term, more will go on for additional schooling.

“I always knew I wanted to go to graduate school, and the fact that the job market wasn’t doing as well made grad school more desirable,” said Aparna Kumar ’10, who graduated with a double concentration in art history and international relations. Though she received several job offers, she chose to enroll in a doctoral program in art history at University of California at Los Angeles.

Simmons emphasized that ultimately the job search process “does require people to be proactive and persistent” and rewards those who are persistent and seek out help as needed.

Robert Taj Moore ’11, who graduated with a concentration in political science and is currently a Scoville Fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a global security think tank in Washington, D.C., agreed. “I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t have something at this point, so it all worked out pretty well,” he said.

This year’s responses show comparable patterns to two recent Herald polls asking similar questions, including a fall 2008 Herald poll conducted in the midst of the financial crisis.



Written questionnaires were administered to 851 undergraduates November 2–3 in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center during the day and the Sciences Library at night. The poll has a 3.1 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. The margin of error is 4.6 percent for the subset of males and 4.3 percent for females.

Find results of previous polls at