In the past year, we've been seeing an increasing number of studies claiming that the hot job market is back for new college graduates. Salaries for Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, and Computer Science undergraduates are back on the ris. The market for MBAs is hot again.
We also hear of recent graduates drowning in a sea of student loan debt because they are unable to find these great jobs that were allegedly waiting for them. So what is going on?
Yeah, I see lots of studies talking about the "wonderful" job market and high salaries that await college graduates. However, reality and those studies do not match.
I graduated last spring with an MBA to go with my BS in Electrical Engineering. Ultimately, I did find a job...but I found it based on my engineering experience, not the new degree. From what I've been able to see around me, I was fortunate to be able to fall back on that engineering degree...and lucky to find as good of a job as I did at that! Good jobs do seem to exist, but there are nowhere near enough to go around.
In the job hunting process, what I heard repeatedly is that it is very difficult in the current job market to find a job if you don't have experience in the field that you're looking in -- merely having a degree, even with high grade point, is far from being enough. And looking around at my classmates who were not already employed, I'd note that those who did manage to find jobs are making far below what is claimed in all these studies for average starting MBA salaries. Come to think of it, I know of at least one MBA locally who is working in an hourly position at a Sam's Club store. Another did find a job that utilizes her degree...but pays barely enough for her to make ends meet. And this in a low cost of living metro area.
Meanwhile, a friend's younger brother graduated with a BS in Computer Science. He did find a job...one that paid exactly half of what is claimed to be the average starting salary for graduates with his degree. Similarly, in electrical engineering, I saw plenty of jobs advertised for experienced engineers with pay levels comparable to what are being claimed as starting salaries for new graduates. In the place where I am now working, I hear from those interviewing for new hires that they are seeing literally dozens of qualified applicants for each opening that they have -- and this at a company that is doing a fair amount of hiring.
The reality remains that this is a tough job market -- this is true for experienced professionals, and seems to be even more true for inexperienced new graduates. All these "studies" to the contrary seem to be little more than marketing hype...and any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. But I do think that it is a shame that students are being inundated with these BS studies that build grossly unrealistic expectations of what to expect upon graduation. And it would be interesting to see if any honest research into the job market for college graduates still exists.