Post-Grad Plans

By Ariana Busby

In our May centerpiece, we explore just what the Class of 2015 will be doing after they part from our beloved school.

In just a number of days, the Class of 2015 will swap their thesis-writing sweatpants for blue graduation gowns as they prepare to graduate. Barnard has produced an extensive list of celebrated alumnae, and it is not uncommon to hear of the illustrious careers of graduated peers. However, for many of the seniors who are moments away from starting life as real adults, the days, months, and years ahead hold far more precariousness than certainty. This fear is no doubt grounded in the increasing unreliability of the young person’s job market.

A 2014 study showed that approximately 8.5 percent of college graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 were unemployed and nearly 17 percent were “underemployed.” This label means that these candidates were unsuccessful as of yet in the job hunt and working part-time at a job they were overqualified for due to a lack of full-time opportunities. Moreover, 44 percent of college graduates with a B.A. between the ages of 22 and 27 worked at jobs that did not require a Bachelor’s degree, often at a much lower pay than they would receive in a job demanding a diploma. These statistics make impending adulthood all the more intimidating. But, as always, Barnard students approach this challenge with tenacity, openness, and determination.

For students still cultivating their interests and considering multiple career options, beginning work directly out of school can be a good opportunity to crystallize professional priorities and exercise a variety of skills. Such is the case for Anna Dydzuhn, BC ’15, who will be starting work as a Global Business Consultant for IBM at the end of the summer. In her position at IBM, she will gain experience in a variety of consulting capacities and often travel four days a week. After working a couple years in the position, employees will either be promoted or choose to explore alternative opportunities. It might be surprising to some that an English major like Dydzuhn is planning to pursue a career in finance. However, she says that studying a humanities subject was not a limitation on her professional pursuits. She found that her liberal arts education allowed her to expand both personally and intellectually. In choosing a career in consulting, she was drawn to the same idea of interdisciplinary flexibility.

Graduate or professional school is often an option for students who want to continue pursuing higher education. Samantha Gilbert, BC ’15, a Political Science major, is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at George Washington University in the fall. Gilbert struggled with the decision to continue school immediately after completing her Barnard education, but ultimately saw graduate school as an important step in advancing her career. Further narrowing her interests made a specific route of study easier to imagine: “I’ve always known I wanted to go into politics, but I didn’t expect to attend grad school so soon after graduation. One of my political science colloquia inspired me to pursue a career in food and agriculture policy after writing a term paper on the WIC program.” In this way, Gilbert’s experiences in the Barnard classroom helped shape her professional goals.

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Gilbert is excited to relocate to Washington, D.C. which for her, is the most advantageous place to be as it will allow her to network and connect with people in the field she wants to pursue. However, she says she will miss the excitement of New York City and being close to friends: “It’s going to be difficult adjusting to calling people on the phone instead of knocking on the door when I want to talk.” Despite the distance, Gilbert knows that her Barnard friendships will stay strong.

Another student for whom graduate school is a necessary professional measure is Claire Bouchard, BC ’15. Bouchard recognized her passion for law as a young child and now seeks to work specifically in international civil litigation. Though prepared to follow multiple paths toward her goal, Bouchard hopes to defer law school for a year and travel throughout the Middle East in order to learn Arabic. She feels that this kind of travel will not only help her grow personally, but give her experience that will be essential to her international law career. Her time at Barnard has shown her the importance of global thinking and she wants to capitalize on this perspective in her post-grad plans.

The life of a post-grad is often portrayed as a disparate dichotomy: either she has effortless confidence starting her job at Goldman Sachs while wearing an exquisitely-tailored suit or she’s eating ramen in an overcrowded apartment while being woefully unemployed. In reality, every graduate will likely experience both of these sensations after completing college, and Barnard students are no different. The upcoming few years for graduates could represent just the beginning of a lasting and beloved career or a valuable period of re-evaluation and reflection. But as with any challenge, Barnard students will inevitably tackle these years with determination, wit, and unyielding curiosity. Congratulations, Class of 2015!

Photos by Maddy MolotModel: Aku Acquaye