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Survey suggests employment on rise for recent grads

The most popular employers include Google, the University and Morgan Stanley

The number of students entering employment immediately after graduation increased from 56 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2012, according to a survey conducted by CareerLAB.

Of the 1,321 members of the class of 2012 who responded to the survey, 24 percent alternatively pursued full-time graduate or professional study immediately following graduation, 11 percent pursued “other endeavors” including volunteering, fellowships and additional courses, and  36  graduates reported that they were still “seeking employment” as of March this year. Data for the survey was collected between May 2012 and March 2013.

Medicine, law, and teaching and education were the three most popular professional degrees pursued by alums, while education, finance and banking, and science and research were the three most common post-employment industries.

The five most popular employers were Teach for America, Brown, Google, Morgan Stanley and Epic Systems.

CareerLAB Director Andrew Simmons said he assumed the spike in employment is a result of a better economy.

Education might be the most popular sector due to the vast opportunities it offers, while the low number of students working in the government and public policy sector is due to the amount of specialization needed to go into these fields — students need to gain “frontline experience” first, Simmons said.

Simmons added that the survey might underestimate the numbers pursuing graduate and professional study as many students work for a few years before entering graduate school. The number of students entering medical school is also boosted by the students in the Program in Liberal Medical Education class, he said.

Clearer trends might be evident once CareerLAB gathers data over a longer period of time, Simmons added, and if CareerLAB examines how alums have changed their career tracks 10 years after graduating.

CareerLAB also sorted its post-graduate data by concentration on its website and linked it to Focal Point, indicating the diversity of career opportunities that exist within each discipline, Simmons said.

“What alumni do is all over the place. This is consistent with the kind of place that Brown is,” he added.

Because students from the class of 2013 have not yet had enough time to solidify their plans after Brown, CareerLAB plans to release data indicating their post-employment paths in the spring, Simmons said.


From campus to career

Marvin Li ’13, who studied chemical engineering, currently works for Epic, a company he said creates software for medical use.

Despite Epic’s attempts to create a college vibe in the workplace, “there’s less of a sense of unified community” outside Brown, Li said. “It’s harder to make friends.”

Li said his time at Brown, especially in his engineering classes, taught him to figure out concepts on his own. He is able to apply this to software generation because he is constantly “doing something that no one knows how to do,” he added.

“I think that there’s nothing to totally prepare you for your first year of teaching,” said Kyra Mungia, a Teach for America corps member. She added that she worked closely with Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron to prepare for her interviews.

Alejandra Lindstrom Peralta ’12, who concentrated in visual arts, went to New Mexico to become a beekeeper, moved to Montana to become a goat herder and currently works at an oyster farm in Providence, she said.

“My time working with animals and being in these different places has basically just given me materials for artwork that I’m currently working on,” Peralta said. She hopes to apply to an MFA program at a graduate school next year, she said.

Lei Ma ’13 said that Brown Taekwondo, rather than her academic experiences, wielded the most influence over her interests — and this has carried over to her work at the University of Texas at Austin’s evolutionary biology ecolab.

In Taekwondo, students learn to “just do one thing and try not to think of anything else,” Ma said. “That applies to everything else you’re doing.”

Ma said she found this applicable to her studies at Brown, as well as her current job as a lab technician.


Hitting the books (again) 

Kimberly Wachtler ’13, who double concentrated in anthropology and gender and sexuality studies, currently attends Yale Law School. Wachtler said a different kind of diversity exists in grad school. Wachtler’s colleagues at Yale vary in age, experience and route to law school, she said.

Watchler chose to go to grad school because of the multitude of opportunities that law school opens up, as well as the enjoyment she derives from learning, she said.

“It’s not that it takes a certain type of person (to go straight into to grad school), but I think that it’s a choice,” she said.

Wachtler said Brown prepared her for graduate studies by teaching her to analyze course material well and apply it through her own perspective.

“I think that regardless of what you study at Brown, you learn how to think,” she said.

PLME students Julius Ho ’12 and Jovian Yu ’12, who currently attend Alpert Medical school, said the biggest difference between their undergraduate and graduate studies at Brown is that the schedule for graduate school is more structured.

“Everybody takes the same classes,” Ho said. “There’s just one curriculum.”

Yu said above academics, he appreciated the teamwork and people skills that Brown taught him.

Michael Goldberg ’13, who concentrated in biology and music, is currently on a Fulbright Fellowship in France to help create a database for diseases, he said.

“It provides a great platform to be able to look at diseases over space and time,” he said.

Brown prepares its students in ways that they do not necessarily realize during their time there, Goldberg said, adding that it taught him to constantly question his surroundings.

Brown lent him “academic independence” that he uses in his workplace today, he said.

“You have to spend a lot of time stepping back and thinking about the entire situation,” he said.


Liberal arts in motion 

Life after graduating is like a “breath of fresh air,” Ma said, referring to the pressure in college to fill up every moment with activities. She enjoys the “distinction between work and non-work that really doesn’t exist in college,” she added.

Peralta said she misses her peers, who are currently dispersed all over the world. “I feel like I’ve lost a community that’s really important to me,” she said. But she said she appreciates the fact that many alums still live in Providence and that she is able to reconnect with many of them.

While Watchler said she found CareerLAB helpful because its law school info sessions allowed her to envision life at a certain school without having to leave campus, Ma said she found CareerLAB unhelpful in finding a job as a research biologist, because the resources she needed, such as connections and contacts, were department-specific.

“For someone who knows what they want to do, CareerLAB is not that helpful,” she said.

When searching for employment, students should apply to as many jobs as they can, no matter how unqualified they may feel, Li said.

“It’s a numbers game,” he added.


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