Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's In A Degree?

Let me begin by saying that I am a firm believer in the value of education. Especially in today's world and in this time of economic crisis, having solid, marketable job skills, work experience and a degree (or at least certification and training along with a high school diploma) are valuable tools in landing a job.

However, as I've been going through the rigors of trying to graudate and get that little piece of paper--filling out a graduation application, searching the ends of the Earth for an internship, getting a degree audit, meeting with advisors so that there are no last-minute-I'm-sorry-you-can't-graduate-suprises, along with taking the regular 15-18 hour courseload--I sometimes have moments of doubt.

What am I doing all this for? often pops up in my head. What's the point? I mean if the current economic destruction we are all witnessing is any indication, having a degree or two and the words Doctor or PhD in front your name does not guarantee a job. People with master's and doctorates making six figures are getting laid off and collecting unemployment checks. My future field, journalism, is definitely feeling the economic burn. Newspapers are dying, laying off workers or going into hiring freezes.
At my hometown paper editors must take off a week at a time, while reporters must take one day off while still taking on a five-day workload. That's four days for the same pay. Our campus paper's editor in chief, who interned there last summer, said all this job insecurity has killed employee morale, and one journalism grad from our school is thinking about jumping ship.

Within my own family I've seen a college degree does not guarantee a happily ever after scenario. My brother and his friends, who graduated in 06' with a bachelor's in computer information systems, have yet to find jobs in their field. They all work at a Target Superstore in Lafayette. Make no mistake, my brother's not lazy and has definitely made efforts to find a CIS-related job, but so far to no avail.

For all my optimism and drive about finding a job, stories like this can't help but make me a little pessimistic about my future employment prospects. That all my hard work and experience gained in student media these last 4 years may mean nothing to a potential employer who can literally not afford to hire me is scary. Or that even if I'm fortunate enough to land a job, I still may not be safe from the chopping block if times get rough.

I guess the point of this post is that security does not come from a piece of paper. While a college education is a wonderful thing, having 10 degrees does not mean you will never be out of work. The current ecomonic crisis gives all of us more reason to focus not on the careers others think we should choose, but to search inside of ourselves and figure out what it is we want to do. Then make sure we are as prepared as we can be to pursue that goal, whether that involves technical school, learning a trade, or a university.

'Cause there's nothing worse then having spend time searching for employment in a field you hate, because you took what you thought was the safe way out, only to find no road is completely safe.

2 comments:

Kelli said...

Entering the world of journalism -- with or without a degree, it seems -- is definitely intimidating. I'm interested to see how the newspaper industry will evolve.

Kevin said...

@Kelli: Thanks for stopping by lol:).

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