Graduate school and beyond: graduate degrees make students more appealing to employers

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Graduate students have found themselves with more employment opportunities than in prior years. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

As the percentage of people earning bachelor’s degrees increases, furthering one’s education to remain competitive in the job market has become more important.

Karin Jordan, assistant dean of graduate development and engagement, said in an email employers today value students with a bachelor’s degree or more, which might make it hard for students to stand out as easily without graduate degrees.

“There was a time when graduates with a bachelor’s degree stood out,” Jordan said. “However, at around 2015, one in three adults earned a bachelor’s degree. Employers today value higher education.”

According to the 2022 National Association of Colleges and Employers ’ job outlook survey, employers plan to hire 31.6 percent more college graduates from the class of 2022. This number is up 5 percent from last fall’s prediction for the class of 2022.

Jordan said in such a competitive job market, those with a graduate degree are more likely to stand out.

“Today’s bachelor’s degrees are often required for entry-level positions and/or advancement,” Jordan said. “Over 80 percent of jobs in four of the fastest growing occupations- healthcare, STEM, education, and government services- demand a post-secondary education.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workers will hold an average of 10.8 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 42 alone.

Jordan said pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. is highly valuable in developing versatility in the workforce. She said this makes graduate students’ skills attract a wider variety of career options.

“Transferable skills are becoming increasingly important and are something that students can develop as part of their education,” Jordan said.

Jordan said the uneven rates of record high job openings in some areas and declines in others may be a challenge for graduate students. However, she said the resources at Ohio State may be helpful for graduate students to navigate those issues.

“There are career fairs hosted by various colleges each fall and spring semester, which are great ways to get connected with potential future employers,” Jordan said. “Networking at these events is important.”

Jordan said in addition to job search sessions, the Buckeye Career Center offers career counseling, help with resumes, interviews and even professional attire for graduate students.

Nancy Thompson, director of Buckeye Careers, said the center conducts graduation surveys every semester to get feedback on how well graduate students are doing in the career field.

“What we are seeing is from the survey itself about 90.5 percent of these students have accepted a position, or remaining in their current position or considering job offers,” Thompson said.

Thompson said career resources on campus keep students linked with employers who are seeking to hire, along with a series of networking events.

“We’re going to be hosting, in the spring, a graduate and professional school fair,” Thompson said. “We’re really trying to be more robust and bring in more employers to campus who want to recruit graduate professional students.”

Jordan said graduate school both expands career options for students while encouraging expertise in a chosen field and teaches students the value of becoming a global citizen by encouraging diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

“Becoming a lifelong learner accessing this training as an alum, will assure that graduates stay relevant in their profession and will help them to upscale,” Jordan said.

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