Analysis series: careers after graduation

STEM Careers for the college grad

Recently, Sam Berndt published an article through the National Retail Federation about STEM careers after graduation called After graduation: Where this year’s grads will find jobs. 

Let’s take a look at a snippet of his work and analyze it: 

With graduation season underway, NRF’s annual survey found that more than a third of consumers are getting ready to pick up cards, set aside some cash or splurge on new electronics for the high school and college grads in their lives. The data shows that graduation gifts have not changed much in the last 10 years: Most of today’s grads can expect a card and some cash or a gift card to help them prep for the next phase in their lives. However, what has changed is the type of jobs and careers those exiting school and entering the workforce are considering. Using national data from Emsi, NRF’s research team dug a little deeper to gain some insights into who these students are and what career opportunities they’re considering. 

Which career test should I take after graduation?

More students are focusing on STEM 

The top three degree programs for graduating seniors are business, health and liberal arts degrees, with over 1.7 million graduates between them; these programs also account for over 40 percent of all graduates in 2017. They will continue to be pillars of the U.S. higher education system, but looking to the 10-year growth trend in degree programs provides a different perspective. 

Looking at the top 10 fastest-growing degree programs over the last 10 years, we can see significant representation of STEM fields. In fact, seven of the 10 fastest-growing occupations are in STEM (precision production, science technologies, mathematics, health professions, engineering, computer science and biological fields). The rapid growth in STEM fields may reflect a shift in focus from broad-based degrees to more technical and skill-based trainings. A number of initiatives designed to encourage STEM education have popped up that focus on rapidly training the workforce in STEM-related skill sets, including JPMorgan Chase’s recent commitment to skills as the future of work and The Home Depot’s OrangeMethod coding bootcamp.  This heavier focus on tech skill sets is good news for retailers, most of which are equal parts customer and technology focused. 

Marjorie: As much as we ideally hope that all who study STEM programs can master the demands of the job with education, the reality supported by research does not support this contemporary hope. 

Let me highlight a few factors about STEM careers after graduation.

For half a century now, large utility type companies have used objective test modules to determine whether an applicant can actually do the tasks of technical jobs.  Certain types of reasoning abilities are required to perform technical jobs in fields such as engineering, telecommunications, construction and medical devices. These reasoning abilities can not be taught as 100 years of research has determined.  You are born with them or not. 

Let me give you some examples. 

A large high school  valedictorian sought my help after completing his bio-medical engineering degree.  He chose it because he had the smarts to learn it.  Indeed he did.  But he quickly discovered that not only did he not like it, he could do the work without a book telling him what to do.  His learning was completely book dependent.  The tasks one faces in a job can not all be covered between the covers of a book.  When he completed my natural ability test, he discovered that while he had the smarts, he did not possess one of the two reasoning abilities to do engineering.  He did however have one of the most perfect musical composer profiles I have seen to date.  

Much research has been done in the area of natural abilities since the military started almost 100 years ago.  Utility companies like Ball and GE used it for their hiring purposes.  Johnson O’Connor researches for career purposes.  Education has used it primarily for learning challenges.   

Out of this vast collection of research, and due to the disappointment by companies in relying on education to determine job function capabilities, companies are beginning to use such testing tools as a screening aid for even soft skill jobs as well.  A client with much marketing experience was required to complete such a test.  She had called me up help her prepare for it.  After learning that it was a natural ability test, I assured her that there was little she could do to prepare.  The tests are in fact so simple that if you have the ability you master it quite easily from the age of 14.  If, however, you do not have that natural reasoning ability, no matter how many times you try to do better you can not.  I have tried, even using my paper & pencil version where I can set the time.  I can’t improve on my lower scores.  

My client  did not “pass” her tests.  But, that was very useful information for her.  It opened up a host of other jobs for her to apply to that she knew she would enjoy more.  Within months of this discovery she landed a job she loves. 

I have another client who was fired from her first job after college, and was now struggling in her second which was much like the first.  When we got back the results, we examined the factors that were making it difficult for her to do the tasks of her job.  Suddenly she burst into tears.  Her strong belief in the modern inclusivity motto had been shattered.  She realized that she really would struggle for a long time to learn to manage the paperwork and organizational demands of her high volume client job well.  We have begun looking at occupations where she can have success, as well as happiness instead of stress and failures. 



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