Monday, April 13, 2009

As Interest in Business Careers Wanes, What's Next?

CAPS struggles sometimes with a common misperception on campus that our services are only available or useful to students interested in banking, finance or consulting. Time and time again we read editorials in the Maroon, or hear feedback from students, that rail against us for not serving the hundreds of other students interested in careers outside of the traditional business realm. What about journalism, science, non-profits, etc.? Nevermind the fact that with over 30 staff members at CAPS, our expertise ranges from the law, to communications, to the government, to market research, to, yes, even business. Students seem to ignore, or else just forget about, the non-business programming that we offer, which ranges from immersion camps in the sciences, arts and non-profit industries to workshops with alumni from a wide range of backgrounds, Chicago Careers in...Programs in not only business, but also journalism, law and health professions. Students who were interested in non-business careers sometimes don't come to CAPS at all - and as a result, they miss out on large portions of programming that may have been of use and interest.

Well, if a recent article in the New York Times is correct, maybe that's about to change. Because according to this article, finance jobs, once the most coveted by many graduating college students, are about to be replaced in popularity by jobs in the government, the sciences and public service. The article states, "And early indications suggest new career directions that are tethered less to the dream of an immediate six-figure paycheck on Wall Street than to the demands of a new public agenda to solve the nation’s problems...What will the new map of talent flow look like? It’s early, but based on graduate school applications this spring, enrollment in undergraduate courses, preliminary job-placement results at schools, and the anecdotal accounts of students and professors, a new pattern of occupational choice seems to be emerging. Public service, government, the sciences and even teaching look to be winners..."

So what does this mean for University of Chicago students? There are a variety of scenarios that may play out for you over the next several months - here are just a few, and ways in which CAPS can help:

1) You're about to graduate, or enter the summer, or you've been laid off, without job or internship plans, and like the students interviewed in the NYT article, you're interested in a government or public service career. Action: a) Attend the CAPS/UCSC Public Service and Non-Profit Career Fair, taking place this Friday, April 17 from 12 - 4pm in Ida Noyes. Meet with over 30 non-profit and government organizations that are hiring interns and full-time opportunities. b) Make an appointment with a CAPS counselor. We have several staff on hand with backgrounds in non-profit and government work, including Max Brooks and Shayna Plaut. Come in with your resume and work with them to put together a job search plan.

2) You're about to graduate, enter the summer, or you've been laid off, and you don't know what industry or field you want to go into. Action: Make a career exploration appointment with a CAPS counselor. Regardless of what stage of your career you're in (no internships, three internships, no experience, 5 years of experience) a career counselor can help you think about what you actually LIKE to do - and career paths that will help you do that.

3) You're about to graduate, enter the summer, or you've been laid off, and you ARE interested in a career in business or consulting (what does the NYT know anyway?): Action: Make an appointment with a CAPS career counselor. We have several staff on hand with backgrounds in investment banking and consulting, including Michael Paone and Lauren Baker. And just because the media is claiming that finance careers are "disgraced" doesn't mean you shouldn't go after the job you are interested in - as long as you are being realistic about your goals.

To make an appointment with a CAPS counselor, call (773) 702 - 7040.

Is the finance industry really disgraced? Were you considering a career in business or consulting, but are now looking elsewhere? Post your comments here.

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