Upon talking with graduating members of the Marine and Freshwater Science Association (MFSA), I was surprised to find that, despite the abundance of articles spelling doom for this year’s graduating class in the world force, they feel they’re unaffected by the recession.
There is an interesting philosophy behind their brave faces that relies on further education and volunteer experience to help them gain entry into their fields.
It’s not a philosophy that works for everyone, but nothing could be better for these academically-inclined soon-to-be grads.
Jay Sidon, president of MFSA, said he wants to pick up a few more courses before saying goodbye to his life as an undergrad.
He wants to figure out what he actually wants to do and find what opportunities are out there before throwing himself into an evolving career world. Even once he completes those post-graduation courses, his sights are set on dentistry school and he will have another four years of education.
By the time he enters the workforce, he predicts things will be “booming.” As for the current recession, he said since he’s pursuing further education instead of entering the work force “it’s scary, but it doesn’t feel like anything is changing.”
Jay said he also thinks volunteer work — instead of minimum wage customer service jobs — will help graduates find positions in their future careers. He worked as a waiter for several years, but he said he thinks his volunteer service has added much more to his resumé. “I job-shadowed a dentist for a while at a dental clinic. It was meaningful, character building … [and] a great help to me.”
During his second year of university, he wanted to get into veterinary school so he volunteered for a year and a half at an animal hospital. Although he’s moving in a different direction now, it’s a door that will remain open in case he decides to come back to that profession.
MFSA secretary Brent Kerbel said he agrees that volunteer experience is a great asset to graduating students, especially those who look to find a profession. Like Jay, Brent has also volunteered at two different places.
Hoping to one day become a doctor, he volunteered at a hospital. “It allowed me to learn what they do there, [about] different specialties in the profession.” He described volunteering as being more like “practical education” than work and very important to job researching.
Then, his role at the Toronto Wildlife Center gave him the opportunity to see how things worked behind the scenes, such as operations. He said he’s not really concerned with the recession since he will have years of medical school to get through. For now, he will just continue to volunteer.
To Jen Bloch, the group’s public and internal relations co-ordinator, education is “the best thing you can invest in.”
She said she knows the recession won’t go on forever and, with her masters and perhaps a PhD ahead of her, she thinks well-educated people may not feel the pinch as much as others.
Although she doesn’t see teaching in her future, she’s currently tutoring and hopes it will be easy to obtain a research position after years of education.
These members of the Class of 2009 would probably be on the same paths even if the economy was booming, but they demonstrate that there are options for students who don’t think they’re ready to land their Dream Job.
Even if you’re not following the same career paths as Jen, Brent and Jay, you can follow their example. To avoid panicking about not landing a meaningful job, find something else meaningful you can do with your time that will help you get there: volunteer, job shadow, get some more education. Whatever works for you.
What other meaningful things can students and new grads do to help them move up in the world?