May 072010
Authors: Ryan Sheine

Senior economics major Alexis Sanders hopes that one day his career will help him revolutionize the criminal justice system.

But, with jobs in short supply due to the recession, Sanders said before he brings about prison reform he is pursuing a graduate degree for the sake of his career goal because he is worried about the limited opportunities that an undergraduate degree provides.

“We live in a world now where an undergraduate degree may not cut it,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that having a master’s or doctorate degree opens up opportunities both nationally and internationally. The unemployment rate for doctorate economists is 0 percent, he said.

Ann Malen, who has been the director of the Career Center at CSU for 12 years, said today’s job market is one of the tougher job markets she’s seen.

Still, Malen said there are jobs available for all levels of education and that the decision to go to graduate school should be based on the individual’s personal preference and career desires.

“There is a lot of competition for positions because there are a lot of unemployed people out there,” she said. “There are a lot of people looking for jobs.”

“You go to graduate school if you have a very solid plan for your career, and you need to go to grad school to make you more capable of achieving your career,” Malen said. “It shouldn’t be used as an escape from your job search; it’ll just lead to having more debt.”

Career Center liaison for the College of Engineering John Haines said in an e-mail that if the job market is poor, students should view any experience as a good experience. Haines said that he is seeing more engineering students considering grad school as a way to prolong entry into the job market.

“Engineers are uniquely qualified to do many other things than just engineering. Each year we send many engineers onto law school, med school, teaching school, etc.,” Haines said. “But like everything in the economy, engineering is also cyclical … but I think it swings less dramatically than other job sectors so there will always be a need for engineers.”

Malen said that graduate school enrollment always swells during a recession, but she suggests looking at what you really want to do with your career and whether or not graduate school is really required before deciding on applying for post-secondary school.

“You shouldn’t assume getting a graduate degree will lead to a higher salary unless the degree is really necessary for the job,” Malen said. “Evaluate opportunities and career goals and see what makes the most economic sense.”

Moreso than graduate school, Malen said she strongly encourages students to have internships because companies use internships as a pipeline for permanent hires.

“One of the biggest things for students is flexibility and an ability to continue learning through grad school and a willingness to change and adapt for students of all majors,” Sanders said. “There are definitely opportunities out there for people who are driven and motivated.”

Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at

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