Section: Features

Russia to NYC: liberal arts degrees take grads across globe

Russia to NYC: liberal arts degrees take grads across globe

by Amy Shirer

The words “real world” and “employment” have the ability to strike fear into the hearts of college students everywhere, who are facing a limited job market. However, Kenyon’s Office of Institutional Research recently published a survey stating that 71 percent of the Class of 2013 had a job as of summer 2014, which is four percent higher than the percent of graduates who were working one year after their 2012 graduation.

The study, however, does not encompass the entire class. “We invited all of the alums for whom we had an email address, and then of course, only a certain proportion of those responded,” Erika Farfan, the director of institutional research, said. One-hundred forty-seven members of the Class of 2013 responded

The Office of Institutional Research also published comparable surveys of the Classes of 2003, 2008 and 2012, which were reported in earlier years, to show larger patterns. Of the students who replied that they were employed, an average of 35 percent of them secured their first paying job while enrolled at Kenyon, and an average of 48.7 percent landed their first paying job within six months of graduating.

Lauren Toole ’14, who was an editor-in-chief of the Collegian last year, was one of these employed students. An English major with a concentration in Islamic civilization and cultures, Toole obtained a job as a paralegal with the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison law firm in New York City.

“I actually got the job because Kenyon and the law firm have a lot of connections,” Toole said. “We have a very strong alumni group there.” Last spring, the Career Development Office (CDO) sent an email to all seniors, informing them of two job openings within the law firm. “There was a mass exodus of [Kenyon students] applying,” Toole said. “It was very stressful because [we were] competing with Kenyon peers.”

While Toole elected to remain in the U.S., another member of her class, Anna-Sophia Ziton ’14, a modern languages major and anthropology minor, chose to pursue her TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. She now teaches in Russia. “Until I get back to the U.S., no job I ever get will be because the employer was impressed by my Kenyon College stamp of approval,” Ziton wrote in an email to the Collegian. “If we’re being honest, having a college degree in general might help you get a job teaching English abroad, but it’s not mandatory.”

The degree itself might not have helped her obtain her job, but Ziton believes her Kenyon experience has helped her in applying to jobs for when Ziton’s teaching contract in Russia expires this summer.  “Just because the people I want an interview with might not have heard of Kenyon doesn’t mean it hasn’t played a role in the job search,” she wrote. “It might not have helped me land a job yet, but the quality of education has certainly given me the upper hand.”

Maria Rogers ’14, a political science major and art history minor, waited until after graduation to apply for internships and jobs. “I thought it was a little crazy that people could juggle applying to jobs, classes, comps and having a life senior year,” she said.

Rogers said she spent about two and a half months looking for work. She interned for WW Norton Publishing from August to December and is now interning at Writers House, a literary agency. Both internships were paid and located in New York City.

James Dennin ’14, an English and political science major, also waited until after graduation to apply for work opportunities. “Looking for jobs is really time-consuming,” he said. “Generally, I would submit 15-20 cover letters for every one I would hear back from.” Dennin began working six weeks after graduation as an in-house writer for Kapitall, an online investment platform. He currently works as a content and media specialist at Moxie Communications.

Dennin said there is “a hyper-awareness about employability in the media that has definitely undervalued … a lot of the qualities that liberal arts majors have.” Contrary to these media depictions, Dennin believes his Kenyon education has benefited him greatly in the job market.

“I’ve found that I’ve had a little bit of an advantage with my liberal arts [degree] that I didn’t really expect,” he said. “You get out into the real world and you realize how few people can communicate effectively [and] what an important asset that is to write well. Those skills are invaluable.”

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