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November 2013 Archives

Majors don't determine careers!

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Did you know that that Jon Stewart majored in psychology?  Mick Jagger majored in economics?  Elizabeth Warren  majored in audiology and speech pathology?  

Teaching and nursing majors are directly related to career options, but most majors are not.  It's unlikely that the major you choose will dictate your career or narrow your career choices for the future. First and second year students change majors frequently, and many times back into a choice.  Often there is a lurking aprehension that they have picked the wrong major and messed up their chances for a good career.  

Keep in mind that more than anything, employers are looking for soft skills, rather than specific knowledge. These transferable qualities and skills, such as, problem solving, critical thinking, team-building and sensitivity to others, can be developed in any major. The important thing is that you really enjoy what you are learning and that your natural abilities align with your major. 

What about your first job?  It might be "related" to your major, but many times is not . The reality is that your first job is not a "do or die" matter, but rather a jumping off point for future exploration and discovery. Most graduates don't really start to figure out their direction until they are employed and even then it may take more than one job to figure out where there is a good fit for their interests and skills.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average job tenure of 25 to 34 year olds in 2012 was 3.2 years .  Keep in mind that it's very common for professionals to change careers a number of times. There will likely be many bends in the road as you navigate your career path, and unlikely opportunties will arise.  Your primary goal should be to position yourself to start your first job after college where there is a good fit with your interersts and strengths, and an opportunity to grow. 

For ideas on the wide range of options you have with any major, review What Can I do With this Major? on the CEC website.  It is a helpful resource that provides detailed employment information for over 75 different majors, including potential areas of employment, types of employers and occupations, and strategies to pursue to obtain those jobs.  And there are many more options.  Majors don't determine careers!  Contact the CEC to set up an appointment with a career coach.  We're here to help!




When should I start looking for a job?  That question seems to be on the minds of senior students coming into the CEC lately.  Given the challenging economy, it's only natural to be little worried about future job prospects.   The answer to the question of when to begin is ... it depends.     It depends on the industry, the employer, the type of job, and of course it depends on the senior student - where she is in the job search process.  Considering all that is involved in a job search, here are five reasons why seniors should get started on their job search now:


1. It takes time to decide your career direction and discover job possibilities that are a good match for you.
While some students can articulate exactly the kind of job they are pursuing, others have only a vague idea of their direction. Effective career decision making requires self assessment, career research and exploration, doing informational interviews, and managing your time as a student to accomplish all this.  Meeting with a career coach is a good way to get started. 

2. It takes time to develop your written marketing materials - your resume and cover letter.
Once you have decided on specific job possibilities, it's time to convert your one size fits all resume to one which is has a more targeted approach.  Your cover letter will also need to be tailored to match your skills and experience to that desired position.   Get some great tips about marketing your volunteer, internships, study abroad and campus leadership activities by watching the video,  Back to Basics:Marketing Your Total College Experience to Today's Employers .

3. It takes time to develop a network.
The basis of networking is building relationships.  It begins with having conversations with people you know to ask them for AIR - advice, information, referrals or connections to other people.  Since 60% of employment opportunities are located through networking, it's important to learn how to do so effectively in informal ways and the more formal informational interview. Learn how to Optimize Your Networking.

4. It takes time to master interviewing.
Fortunately interviewing is a skill you can learn. Preparing and practicing for interviews will insure you will handle them well.  Have you prepared a verbal marketing piece and can answer the question, Tell me about yourself?  Do you know how to answer behavioral interview questions? Can you confidently discuss salary?    Take time to read Prepare to Interview and consider doing a practice interview with a career coach.

5. Employers have their own time table.
Some industries recruit in the fall and some entry level programs have early application deadlines.  Campus recruiting for finance, accounting, consulting and management training programs begins in the fall.  New grad nurse residency programs have early spring deadlines for applicants.

No matter where you are in the job search process the Career Education Center can help.  Check out our Job Search Check List to see what should be on your to-do list.



Photo: courtesy of Consumer

Simmons Grad in Workplace- Jacqueline Doherty '11.JPGGood news for Simmons grads on the job front: things are looking up!

For the first time since 2008, new Simmons bachelor's graduates are faring better in the employment market than the class before them.   

Key results

The results for the Class of 2012 Employment Survey, released by the CEC in September, show that 86% of new grads were employed full-time or in graduate school full-time (or both) within one year of graduation, a dramatic increase from last year's 79% full-time rate.   

And there is more good news from this year's report. A solid 90% of those graduates employed full-time are in a field related or somewhat related to their major. Also encouraging is that the average reported salary is $45,800, well up from last year's $41,530 and exceeding the national average for all 2012 graduates of $44,259 as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.            

Where do they work?

With Nursing and Biology the top two undergraduate majors, it comes as no surprise that the largest field of employment for new Simmons graduates is health care, attracting 47% of the class. Another 8% went into Business & Finance as well as into Education, 7% into Government, 6% into Communications, and 4% each into Human & Social Services, Sciences, and Technology.   

Top employers, defined as those employing more than one Simmons graduate full-time from the class, include Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, among others. Other employers include Digitas, EMC, Forrester Research, Google, Horizons for Homeless Children, MIT, Travelers Insurance, WGBH, and many more, clear evidence that Simmons grads can go in any direction with their newly minted degrees.

Networking remained the most effective method for new graduates to find a job, with 40% landing their first position in this fashion. While Internet job sites helped 27% get their first jobs, this year 20% of new grads reported obtaining their first position via an internship or clinical placement, up significantly from previous years.      

Like those before them, these new Simmons grads like to stick close to their alma mater. Eighty-three percent of those working full-time are employed in New England, with over two-thirds (70%) remaining in Massachusetts.

Further education

As for those enrolling directly in graduate programs -- 22% of the class  -- top school choices were Simmons, Bentley, and BU, with Brandeis, Columbia, Cornell (veterinary medicine), Emerson, Morehouse (medicine), New England School of Law, NYU, Suffolk (law), Tufts (dental) and many others also represented. 

The survey, conducted annually by the CEC with the May cohort of BA/BS graduates, garnered a 63 percent response rate this past spring. A copy of the Summary Results along with those from previous years is posted on the CEC website.

The take-away

So what does all this mean for current Simmons students? It means that as a Simmons grad you can pretty much do anything and go anywhere! But the key to success is to use your time at Simmons wisely to prepare yourself for the transition from college to career. You want to have a clear picture of your skills, your abilities, and your interests and be able to professionally present them to employers. You also want to explore the options available to you in the workplace and, through research and internships and other experiences, do your best to define where you might best fit. Our four-year STEPS plan can help guide you along this path.

Remember, along with your faculty advisor and others at Simmons, the CEC is here to help - that's what we do! To learn more about what we have to offer, spend a little time here on the CEC website. If you want to take it a step further, you can always set up a time to meet with a career coach.

Then, one day soon, you and your classmates will be joining the proud Simmons graduates who have gone before you and reporting your own success in the workplace! 


Photo: Simmons alum Jacqueline Doherty '11  at Hill Holliday

AW-Cropped Head Shot.jpgWhat a loaded topic with so many definitions including both external, cultural  definitions and internal, personal definitions.  I recently attended the Color of Success program sponsored by the Mulitcultural Affairs and Office of Student Life where Lisa Smith-McQueenie, Associate Dean, asked a panel of students for their definiton of success. I was impressed with their responses:


  • "Accomplishing what feels right or what you feel good about involving self-reflection and growth"
  • "Collective work"
  • "Hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone"
  • "Your own definition based on experience, learning and empowering yourself and others"
  • "Confidence in your work, goal setting, and accomplishments for something bigger and greater"

To achieve success, you must find your own personal definition like these students.  What is your defintion?

The author, Anna Quindlen says, "If success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all." I came across another author who defined success as having a positive impact on the lives of other people. I strongly resonate with that.

There is no one answer to what success is as we create our own personal definitions that have meaning to us.  This can drive our career and life choices and serve as our anchor point in making meaningful decisions throughout our lifetime.

I was struck by a recent Gallup Business Journal article and their international research on well-being that targets "career well-being" as the most important predictor of overall well-being. Their research looks at the longer term outcomes beyond salary as a measure of "success" and speaks to the value of helping students explore and discover what they like and do best in finding a good job.

In the Career Education Center, we are here to contribute to your success and encourage you to utilize our STEPS Career Development Plan. STEPS = Steps To Explore, Prepare, Succeed

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STEPS Career Development Plan here.

You  can make it your own personal action plan to guide you along your 4- year path at Simmons. Take advantage of the career coaching support, skill-building workshops, website resources and employer opportunities in front of you.

I invite you to visit the CEC and discuss what success means to you!

Andrea Wolf is the Director of the Simmons Career Education Center.