Thursday, January 24, 2013

College Blog: Where's my box of chocolates?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM

My job search is not like a box of chocolates – unlike my boyfriend’s. He’s actually been courted and wooed by his future Fortune 100 employer, so much that they actually sent him a box of chocolates. Godiva Truffles, to be exact.

click to enlarge YASMEEN SMALLEY
  • Yasmeen Smalley

Not that I’m bitter.

As a senior in college, the real world is looming closer and closer. The dichotomy between job searching for artistic-versus-technical professions seems larger with every unanswered email.

I'm also a photographer, so my job hunt involves less full-time jobs than you might think. Instead, I find myself researching internships, applying for scholarships and study abroad opportunities: anything to stave off the “real world” and to delay student loans. This tactic is common, especially for those trying to break into the professional world.

Michelle Girard, a 2008 Rochester Institute of Technology graduate of the Advertising Photography program, began looking for internships and jobs after graduation. “I looked on numerous job search engines daily for job postings. I learned how to sift through the jobs on Craigslist,” Girard said.

After a short stint as an advertising photography intern for Coach in New York City, Girard found herself “back to sending out tons of resumes” after a second round of layoffs. Although Girard found work photographing for J. Crew, the “week to week commitment and lack of traditional job stability” led her to move home to Western Massachusetts and start her own wedding photography business, which is going strong now after several years.

While Girard’s experiences ring true for many graduates involved in the arts, it’s a stark difference from those entering the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Michael Norman (the aforementioned chocolate beneficiary), an Information Technology senior at RIT, didn’t have to look very far during his job hunt.

“During my last internship I worked for Liberty Mutual. They knew that I was a rising senior, so they wooed me by taking me out to dinner, including me in company celebrations like going out to a brewery and dinners,” said Norman. “They also took all their employees in the region to Fenway Park to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.”

While Norman may be the exception and not the rule, his position illustrates a huge disparity between how students of different fields are introduced to the job market.

RIT famously touts its semi-annual career fair, which boasts hundreds of employers. During my junior year I decided to test the waters, to see how many potential employers were looking for photographers. To my dismay, not one pamphlet-wielding employer expressed any interest in my skills.

To avoid sounding as bitter as the chocolate I covet, it must be said that artistic professions can be rewarding in different ways. Forbes’ “Top 10 Happiest Jobs” lists artists as number seven in the ranking of happiest jobs, “despite the great difficulty in making a living.”

Bottom line? Money can’t buy happiness. (But it can buy chocolate).

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