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Once safe degree choices are no longer viable in the modern economy

The job market has evolved drastically since the ’90s, when skilled workers were trained primarily at the work site and were in greater demand. The bars have been raised, and though industries are still in search of talented potential, they have become more particular and selective about those they hire.

The dearth of “good jobs” that fit that ambiguous definition of high pay, job satisfaction, and opportunities for advancement has led to fierce competition at all levels of job positions today. At times of such cutthroat competitive job hunting, it is imperative that one think and choose one’s major wisely to avoid creating pitfalls that might endanger one’s career later. Here are some of the courses that have recently been found less favorable when it comes to securing employment after graduating.

  • Information Systems is gradually turning out to be less popular for hiring companies, since they prefer candidates with coding experience and the curriculum falls short. A smarter alternative is a degree in computer science, because employers seek students with a vast knowledge in computer systems. It also allows students to have the flexibility pursuing advanced engineering or take up profiles that require intense software development. Computer science graduate student Rimmi Patel, who begged to differ, said, “Employment opportunities are more or less equal for all and depend on (the) potential of a student. MIS students bag some of the good jobs as well, but it is a matter of fact that CS students have an in-depth understanding of network and computer systems.”
  • Political science can prove to be an uncertain career path, with an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent as opposed to an 8.9 percent unemployment rate for students graduating in criminal justice. Georgetown University’s “Hard Times” study reports economics graduates are at a greater risk for unemployment, and a safer bet is to pursue business administration and teach students more practical aspects than theoretical concepts of economics. Economics doctoral candidate Arpita Chakraborty said, “The job market for economics grad students has in fact turned wide these days. … The employability between (economics and business administration) is actually interchangeable.”
  • Research and development will remain a key part of every industry, and the success of a company is more or less affected by the amount of investments it makes on R&D facilities and labs, while job prospects are more labor-intensive and fluctuate according to a market’s supply and demand. When it comes to studying life sciences, and if you are a job-seeking student who is not keen on conducting post-graduate research studies, then opting for nursing is a smarter move than biology that will fetch numerous opportunities to work unaffected by recessions. The pay scales of nurses have hiked and will continue to rise, making it a lucrative profession.
  • Media and journalism degrees have gained popularity for students who are interested in fine arts, literature, communications and media. But since the media keeps developing with time and has become more technology-dependent, it is difficult to ensure job security for this field. On the other hand, the hospitality industry is booming and in need of more skilled professionals, making it a wise career path for students confident with their communication skills.
  • Another surprising result was the contrast of psychology graduates searching for jobs compared to graduates in social work. A clinical psychology graduate student from the University of Texas at Austin mentioned in a talk that she immediately joined graduate studies a week after finishing her undergrad, since it is difficult to get a job with merely a bachelor degree, whereas a student in social work is exposed to a wider field of employment and has more opportunities to establish networking.

Nonetheless, employment seeking has and always will be a struggle for students across all majors. What matters most at the end of the day is clarity of mind for a student to follow a career path that meets their interests and provides a career base from which they can prosper. We have students changing their majors every year, and this indecisiveness results when children are not helped at a young age to focus and select a field of interest. The silver lining is that passionate students can have some of the best jobs offered, even from majors with the highest unemployment rate.

 Opinion columnist Aishwarya Gogoi is a petroleum engineering graduate student and may be reached at [email protected]

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