2009 graduates could face lower pay for a decade

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mathwhiz
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2009 graduates could face lower pay for a decade

Post by mathwhiz »

http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/ar ... ss-of-2009
Economic research shows that the consequences of graduating in a downturn are long-lasting. They include lower earnings, a slower climb up the occupational ladder and a widening gap between the least- and most-successful grads. In short, luck matters. The damage can linger up to 15 years, says Lisa Kahn, a Yale School of Management economist. She used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a government data base, to track wages of white men who graduated before, during and after the deep 1980s recession.

Ms. Kahn found that for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, those with the misfortune to graduate during the recession earned 7% to 8% less in their first year out than comparable workers who graduated in better times. The effect persisted over many years, with recession-era grads earning 4% to 5% less by their 12th year out of college, and 2% less by their 18th year out. For example, a man who graduated in December 1982 when unemployment was at 10.8% made, on average, 23% less his first year out of college and 6.6% less 18 years out than one who graduated in May 1981 when the unemployment rate was 7.5%. For a typical worker, that would mean earning $100,000 less over the 18-year period.

The impact on wages could be just as severe this time around, says Ms. Kahn. That's because of the depth of this recession and the possibility that the unemployment rate may approach the 10.8% level not seen since the early 1980s. The rate hit 8.9% in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. One reason behind declining wage potential, economists say: The caliber of jobs available in a recession, and their accompanying wages, tend to suffer. High-end firms hire fewer people and drive down salaries because jobs are in such demand.

That means many graduates end up with lower-wage, lower-skill jobs at less-prestigious firms or in firms outside their field of interest. Once the economy picks up and they try for better jobs, these workers have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, colleagues who graduated in a better economy have already developed these skills and progressed much further.
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Post by Juan »

Their arguments about why salaries are lower make sense, but they assume that worker-level salaries are determined rationally and that recent graduates are receiving lower salaries because they are missing out on skill development. I'm not sure I agree, at least not in the short- and intermediate-runs.

In my experience, salaries increases through promotions and new jobs almost always start with your current salary as a baseline anchor. The labor market is very informationally inefficient -- one can't really tell when interviewing what marginal effect one potential hire over another will have on the bottom line, especially in qualitative industries. Salaries, therefore, function as crude proxies for talent in the minds of hiring managers.

One is always asked 'what was your prior salary' when applying for a job. It is rather silly to believe that this doesn't impact the ultimate offer. If I am applying for a position with a $50k - $70k range and the job interview goes well, I suspect the final salary offer will be very different if I told them I had been making $45k at my last job than if I had told them I had been making $65k. A hiring manager (in large companies, they are almost always HR directors that are quite detached from the individuals you'd actually be working for) may even assume that if you had earned a lower salary at your prior position, you deserved what you were making and may not be as talented an employee as someone who had earned more. A financial analyst making $40k may be treated very differently in an interview than one making $90k, even if it's only on an unconscious level.

So because of this, workers who accept lower salaries in mid- to large-cap companies may have persistently lower salaries for a decade or so, despite intrinsically similar qualifications to other applicants.
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Post by mathwhiz »

That means many graduates end up with lower-wage, lower-skill jobs at less-prestigious firms or in firms outside their field of interest. Once the economy picks up and they try for better jobs, these workers have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, colleagues who graduated in a better economy have already developed these skills and progressed much further.
This I think is very true though from my personal experiences. I have friends that graduated during 2002/2003 and they are nowhere near their counterparts who graduated at the peak of the dot com boom in 1999/2000. Much of this can be explained by their lousy first jobs out of college. The 1999/2000 kids got jobs straight out with fortune 500 companies in developmental leadership programs. The 2002/2003 kids were unemployed for 6 months - 1 year living with their parents working dead end retail jobs before they found something better which was usually at smaller businesses and firms making much less money.

Their only crime was being unlucky. They were just as smart and dedicated.
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Schooly D
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Post by Schooly D »

Count me among the unlucky. I got my first job out of grad school in summer 2000 and was laid off a year later due to recession-related government budget cuts and having no seniority. Even after going back to school to improve my marketability I languished for years underemployed in a number of poorly paid dead-end jobs. The prospect of relatively lower life time earnings was less of a concern to me than the frustrating feeling that my skills and energy were going to waste.

Psychological factors can play a role here as well; disappointments and losses early in one's career may undermine one's confidence in ways that make one risk-averse and unassertive, which in turn can hinder professional advancement and lifetime earnings.
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Post by jeffyscott »

I graduated in 1982 and decided to go to grad school partly because no one offered me a job. After I got my MS, I was very interested in job security and mostly looked for government jobs.

My daughter graduated a couple years ago and tried to get into grad school because the alternative seems to be working at Barnes and Noble for $7 an hour.

I have two sons that will be finishing tech school degrees in the next year, perhaps they will not get jobs and will decide to go on for a BS.
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Post by ziggy29 »

jeffyscott wrote:I have two sons that will be finishing tech school degrees in the next year, perhaps they will not get jobs and will decide to go on for a BS.

Ouch -- I hope it's not the kind of work that can easily be offshored to India...
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Post by jeffyscott »

I don't think so, it's a network technician program for both. We think that is generally something where you need to be co-located with the network. (I think that was one reason for choosing that over a programming degree the school also offers)
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Post by eurowizard »

Good thing they also have triple the student loan interest rates as they had 10 years ago!
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Post by Valuethinker »

Juan wrote:Their arguments about why salaries are lower make sense, but they assume that worker-level salaries are determined rationally and that recent graduates are receiving lower salaries because they are missing out on skill development. I'm not sure I agree, at least not in the short- and intermediate-runs.
.
I'll tend to agree with you. Labour markets are not efficient, any labour market economist knows that.

It's all about signalling, and your previous salary and role are 'signals' to future employers.

The 'bad year' effect has been studied on top MBAs. Particularly top MBAs going into investment banking.

These are creme de la creme kids-- their CVs are scary.

And the Stanford U study (one of the top 2 MBAs in America, and hence the world) showed that those who graduate into investment banking in a bad year, still have the impact on their remuneration 18 years later vs. those who graduated in a normal or good year. (to contextualize, the average salary 18 years later was something like $475k).

The effect is pervasive, and impacts even those who work in the elevated fields of investment banking.
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Post by Beagler »

Schooly D wrote:Count me among the unlucky. I got my first job out of grad school in summer 2000 and was laid off a year later due to recession-related government budget cuts and having no seniority. Even after going back to school to improve my marketability I languished for years underemployed in a number of poorly paid dead-end jobs. The prospect of relatively lower life time earnings was less of a concern to me than the frustrating feeling that my skills and energy were going to waste.

Psychological factors can play a role here as well; disappointments and losses early in one's career may undermine one's confidence in ways that make one risk-averse and unassertive, which in turn can hinder professional advancement and lifetime earnings.
What were your undergrad. and graduate degrees in??
“The only place where success come before work is in the dictionary.” Abraham Lincoln. This post does not provide advice for specific individual situations and should not be construed as doing so.
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Post by Schooly D »

Beagler wrote:
Schooly D wrote:Count me among the unlucky. I got my first job out of grad school in summer 2000 and was laid off a year later due to recession-related government budget cuts and having no seniority. Even after going back to school to improve my marketability I languished for years underemployed in a number of poorly paid dead-end jobs. The prospect of relatively lower life time earnings was less of a concern to me than the frustrating feeling that my skills and energy were going to waste.

Psychological factors can play a role here as well; disappointments and losses early in one's career may undermine one's confidence in ways that make one risk-averse and unassertive, which in turn can hinder professional advancement and lifetime earnings.
What were your undergrad. and graduate degrees in??
Undergrad was Poli Sci

Grad was Cognitive Psychology
Cheers, | | David
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Post by saurabhec »

Valuethinker wrote: The effect is pervasive, and impacts even those who work in the elevated fields of investment banking.
The top MBA program grads will figure something out, I don't think it has a permanent impact on them as much because their human capital is high to begin with when they enter into MBA programs. I was a Class of 2005 grad, the first year the market picked up, and when I look at the Class of 2003 (which was the worst class to be in), they all ended up OK, it is not as if they were making less than us by any means. Folks who weren't able to enter banking programs in 2003 got a chance to enter in 2005-2006 after losing a year or two, which is really not that big a deal in the long run.

In investment banking salaries peaked in the mid to late 1990s. Since then they have actually declined in real terms (even before 2008). Did the MBA study take this into account? Obviously if wages in an industry experence a sustained decline, then your vintage matters more than anything else.

I think that recent undergrads are more vulnerable to this effect than MBAs because their human capital is just being formed and they tend not to have any well developed skills. Depressing study results I must say though.
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grad school admissions difficult

Post by rrichards14 »

Not only is the job market very difficult for recent undergrad graduates, but it is also difficult to get into good grad schools. All of those employees who got laid off who are not able to get a similar paying job, but have stellar resumes have decided to go back to school. Now the undergrad who has excellent grades are competing with those who have excellent grades and amazing resumes/experience.
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Post by bozo »

I graduated in 1969 and was promptly shipped off to OCS in Newport, after a short break for summer vacation. I managed to avoid swift boats or other "in country" annoyances. I regard the current whining over relative salary levels as, well, whining. Folks, go do a stint in the military. The pay's good, as I hear. If you come back with all limbs intact (as I did), so much the better.

Bozo
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Post by LH »

bozo wrote:I graduated in 1969 and was promptly shipped off to OCS in Newport, after a short break for summer vacation. I managed to avoid swift boats or other "in country" annoyances. I regard the current whining over relative salary levels as, well, whining. Folks, go do a stint in the military. The pay's good, as I hear. If you come back with all limbs intact (as I did), so much the better.

Bozo
Yeah, its all relative.

If one lives the median life in say africa, our financial complaints are clearly moronic : ) running clean water? AC at home? rule of law? Plumbing? Get appendicitis and you essentailly always live? Sweet stuff. What else do you need?

To take it one step further, I guess anyone who complains about anything and has not suffered under the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, the rape of nanking, or some other such horrible thing, is just whining : )

I feel sorry for the grads of today, bad timing, but it will turn, and thier living setpoints, that as humans we HAVE (heh) to maintain, will likely be lower, which may serve them well going forward.

Cheers,

LH
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Post by VictoriaF »

Valuethinker wrote:
Juan wrote:Their arguments about why salaries are lower make sense, but they assume that worker-level salaries are determined rationally and that recent graduates are receiving lower salaries because they are missing out on skill development. I'm not sure I agree, at least not in the short- and intermediate-runs.
.
I'll tend to agree with you. Labour markets are not efficient, any labour market economist knows that.

It's all about signalling, and your previous salary and role are 'signals' to future employers.
I also agree with Juan's post, but I consider the effect he described "anchoring". It is even stronger than in Kahneman's experiments, where people glanced at their social security numbers (last few digits) and then guessed the number of countries in the United Nations (or something like that).

Even if labor economists can prove that the labor market is inefficient, HR, hiring managers -- and, intuitively, everybody else -- hold an underlying assumption that one makes exactly as much as one deserves.

Victoria
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Post by ElJay »

How is this new for 2009? I graduated in 2003 with a computer science degree and spent literally a couple of years looking for an entry level job in the software field. I earned $9/hr in the interim. I finally got a 'decent' job, partially because I believe I was the low bid, and I am still feeling the effects of it. With a few years of experience under my belt, now would be an optimal time to move on to something fresh and get a decent bump in the paycheck. Except that pesky job loss and recession thing going on means it's not going to happen unless I'm laid off and forced to search for a job.

I've got a couple of cousins graduating college this year and they are all going for masters degrees instead of searching for jobs. That seems like a wise choice if they can afford it. After four years of college I was quite tired of the experience, and the idea of paying more money to the institution was not one I could stand.
But a college degree isn't an automatic ticket to upward mobility, either. Even before the recession began, graduates were seeing their wages shrink. Between 2002 and 2007, according to government data, the inflation-adjusted hourly wage for men ages 25 to 35 with bachelor's degrees (and no graduate degrees) fell 4.5%. For the typical woman, inflation-adjusted wages fell 4.8%.
Corporate America wants another generation of consumers, but they don't want to pay us for it. They want us to buy that $300k house, that $25k new car every three years, that $200 phone with a $80/mo plan, the $120/mo cable TV subscription, the $25 entree at the chain restaurant, and the $125pp Disney World entrance fee with 1.86 kids in tow. And they want us to do it on $20k a year. Something has got to change.
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Post by jeffyscott »

ElJay wrote:How is this new for 2009? I graduated in 2003 with a computer science degree and spent literally a couple of years looking for an entry level job in the software field. I earned $9/hr in the interim.
Thanks for posting, I had thought my daughter's biggest problem was the degree she had gotten (English in 2007). I guess it can be tough, even with what I would think would be a more "marketable" major.
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Post by 3CT_Paddler »

jeffyscott wrote:
ElJay wrote:How is this new for 2009? I graduated in 2003 with a computer science degree and spent literally a couple of years looking for an entry level job in the software field. I earned $9/hr in the interim.
Thanks for posting, I had thought my daughter's biggest problem was the degree she had gotten (English in 2007). I guess it can be tough, even with what I would think would be a more "marketable" major.
If there is one major I would recommend with a good payoff in 4 years is accounting. My friends who are in accounting all do very well for themselves. You likely won't make millions, but you will do better than most engineers and a lot of other technical majors.
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Post by Schooly D »

3CT_Paddler wrote:
If there is one major I would recommend with a good payoff in 4 years is accounting. My friends who are in accounting all do very well for themselves. You likely won't make millions, but you will do better than most engineers and a lot of other technical majors.
The substantial downside to this course of study is that people who major in accounting often end up working as . . . accountants (my wife, for instance). :wink:
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Post by bozo »

Schooly D wrote:
3CT_Paddler wrote:
If there is one major I would recommend with a good payoff in 4 years is accounting. My friends who are in accounting all do very well for themselves. You likely won't make millions, but you will do better than most engineers and a lot of other technical majors.
The substantial downside to this course of study is that people who major in accounting often end up working as . . . accountants (my wife, for instance). :wink:
One bean here. One bean there. On to the bananas. OK, let's sort the bananas. Spots here, no spots there.

Then you get sued by the folks who object to the number of spots you counted.

I am SO glad I am retired. And I wasn't a bean-counter.

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Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Schooly D wrote:
3CT_Paddler wrote:
If there is one major I would recommend with a good payoff in 4 years is accounting. My friends who are in accounting all do very well for themselves. You likely won't make millions, but you will do better than most engineers and a lot of other technical majors.
The substantial downside to this course of study is that people who major in accounting often end up working as . . . accountants (my wife, for instance). :wink:
That's nonsense.....the skills you learn as an accountant can be used in other facets of finance, such as treasurer, CFO, controller. Those functions do not require you to count beans.....only dollars.... :lol:
In other words, do not think you'll be posting g/l entries for the rest of your life.
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Post by Schooly D »

GRT2BOUTDOORS wrote:
Schooly D wrote:
3CT_Paddler wrote:
If there is one major I would recommend with a good payoff in 4 years is accounting. My friends who are in accounting all do very well for themselves. You likely won't make millions, but you will do better than most engineers and a lot of other technical majors.
The substantial downside to this course of study is that people who major in accounting often end up working as . . . accountants (my wife, for instance). :wink:
That's nonsense.....the skills you learn as an accountant can be used in other facets of finance, such as treasurer, CFO, controller. Those functions do not require you to count beans.....only dollars.... :lol:
In other words, do not think you'll be posting g/l entries for the rest of your life.
True enough. My wife spends most of her time these days working with her company's IT staff to design and implement a new computer-based financial management system, though she's still responsible for making sure the beans get counted accurately and on time by the folks she supervises.
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Post by ziggy29 »

Schooly D wrote:True enough. My wife spends most of her time these days working with her company's IT staff to design and implement a new computer-based financial management system
Must be a high long distance bill for calls to India...
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Re: 2009 graduates could face lower pay for a decade

Post by preserve »

mathwhiz wrote:http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/ar ... ss-of-2009
Economic research shows that the consequences of graduating in a downturn are long-lasting. They include lower earnings, a slower climb up the occupational ladder and a widening gap between the least- and most-successful grads. In short, luck matters. The damage can linger up to 15 years, says Lisa Kahn, a Yale School of Management economist. She used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a government data base, to track wages of white men who graduated before, during and after the deep 1980s recession.

Ms. Kahn found that for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, those with the misfortune to graduate during the recession earned 7% to 8% less in their first year out than comparable workers who graduated in better times. The effect persisted over many years, with recession-era grads earning 4% to 5% less by their 12th year out of college, and 2% less by their 18th year out. For example, a man who graduated in December 1982 when unemployment was at 10.8% made, on average, 23% less his first year out of college and 6.6% less 18 years out than one who graduated in May 1981 when the unemployment rate was 7.5%. For a typical worker, that would mean earning $100,000 less over the 18-year period.

The impact on wages could be just as severe this time around, says Ms. Kahn. That's because of the depth of this recession and the possibility that the unemployment rate may approach the 10.8% level not seen since the early 1980s. The rate hit 8.9% in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. One reason behind declining wage potential, economists say: The caliber of jobs available in a recession, and their accompanying wages, tend to suffer. High-end firms hire fewer people and drive down salaries because jobs are in such demand.

That means many graduates end up with lower-wage, lower-skill jobs at less-prestigious firms or in firms outside their field of interest. Once the economy picks up and they try for better jobs, these workers have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, colleagues who graduated in a better economy have already developed these skills and progressed much further.
BS.

Its 2009 and employers hire lowest paid person that can get the job done, regardless of salary history. High salary history, with no skills to back it up is the kiss of death.
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Re: 2009 graduates could face lower pay for a decade

Post by ziggy29 »

preserve wrote:Its 2009 and employers hire lowest paid person that can get the job done, regardless of salary history. High salary history, with no skills to back it up is the kiss of death.
That is a big problem. Salary history is a scarlet letter. Combine that with rampant age discrimination and people who are more experienced in something that doesn't require very specific skills that aren't easily or quickly taught are probably screwed in the "new world economic order."

No matter how much these people may be willing and even eager to work for half of their "salary history," employers don't care. I've even heard of some people about to be laid off asking for a big pay cut in their last paycheck so they could truthfully fudge their salary history to look more attractive to prospective future employers, and I know at least one person who has tried it.
Last edited by ziggy29 on Sat May 16, 2009 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by junior »

ElJay wrote:How is this new for 2009? I graduated in 2003 with a computer science degree and spent literally a couple of years looking for an entry level job in the software field. I earned $9/hr in the interim. I finally got a 'decent' job, partially because I believe I was the low bid, and I am still feeling the effects of it. With a few years of experience under my belt, now would be an optimal time to move on to something fresh and get a decent bump in the paycheck. Except that pesky job loss and recession thing going on means it's not going to happen unless I'm laid off and forced to search for a job.

I've got a couple of cousins graduating college this year and they are all going for masters degrees instead of searching for jobs. That seems like a wise choice if they can afford it. After four years of college I was quite tired of the experience, and the idea of paying more money to the institution was not one I could stand.
But a college degree isn't an automatic ticket to upward mobility, either. Even before the recession began, graduates were seeing their wages shrink. Between 2002 and 2007, according to government data, the inflation-adjusted hourly wage for men ages 25 to 35 with bachelor's degrees (and no graduate degrees) fell 4.5%. For the typical woman, inflation-adjusted wages fell 4.8%.
Corporate America wants another generation of consumers, but they don't want to pay us for it. They want us to buy that $300k house, that $25k new car every three years, that $200 phone with a $80/mo plan, the $120/mo cable TV subscription, the $25 entree at the chain restaurant, and the $125pp Disney World entrance fee with 1.86 kids in tow. And they want us to do it on $20k a year. Something has got to change.
There's something very ironic with this job gripe thread on a forum where I typically observe posts that say something along the lines of "I'm maxing out my 401k and my roth IRA, but where do I put the rest of my monies?"

I guess this forum must be a poor representative sampling in terms of age and demographics.
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Post by ziggy29 »

junior wrote:There's something very ironic with this job gripe thread on a forum where I typically observe posts that say something along the lines of "I'm maxing out my 401k and my roth IRA, but where do I put the rest of my monies?"

We're outliers, I think, and far from representative of the average household. By the fact that most of us here are (or were, if retired) able to save and invest -- often a considerable percentage of our income -- should make that pretty obvious if you believe the surveys about personal savings and retirement account balances over the last few years.

They may not be "griping" about their own situation. I'm certainly not griping about mine -- I've been pretty blessed -- but I'm seeing a lot of the same things as the person you posted this rebuttal to on a macroeconomic level. Businesses that "make stuff" can't expect people to keep buying their products when they've shipped many of their decent-paying jobs overseas and that trend doesn't seem to have any end in sight. That's especially true for non-essential stuff. Henry Ford realized this nearly 100 years ago when he wanted to make sure his employees were paid enough to be able to buy his products.
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Post by Beagler »

Schooly D wrote: What were your undergrad. and graduate degrees in??
Undergrad was Poli Sci

Grad was Cognitive Psychology[/quote]

Most of the Poli Sci major I knew were aiming for law school, or teaching.

Quite a shift to graduate work in cognitive psych.

As you were proceeding through your studies, what was your career goal?
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Post by Schooly D »

Beagler wrote: What were your undergrad. and graduate degrees in??
Schooly D wrote:Undergrad was Poli Sci

Grad was Cognitive Psychology
Beagler wrote:Most of the Poli Sci major I knew were aiming for law school, or teaching.

Quite a shift to graduate work in cognitive psych.

As you were proceeding through your studies, what was your career goal?
I didn't really have a career goal during undergrad, just enjoyed learning and the world of ideas. I ended up majoring in Poli Sci sort of by default; I sought out the best teachers at my university and it so happened that many of them happened to be in the Poli Sci department. I had some interest in public policy, particularly environmental protection policy but never seriously considered law or politics.

I initially entered grad school to get a Master's in Natural Resource Policy but during my time there I developed an interest in cognitive psychology (a professor convinced me that environmental problems are not so much problems with the environment but rather with how individuals and organizations behave with respect to the environment, so it's important to understand why people and organizations behave as they do and how to effect change). After completing the Master's program I continued on to get PhD in psychology with the goal of working as a college teacher and psychology researcher. It's taken me a lot longer than I expected to reach that goal, partly because I limited my job search to cities and institutions that appealed to me (i.e., Research I institutions on the east or west coast).
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Post by Harold »

Schooly D wrote:I didn't really have a career goal during undergrad, just enjoyed learning and the world of ideas.
I suspect some posters might have some criticism of this. But I think it's great.

I've always had a bit of mistrust of anyone who claims to know precisely what he wants out of life at the age of 19.
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Post by Schooly D »

ziggy29 wrote:
Schooly D wrote:True enough. My wife spends most of her time these days working with her company's IT staff to design and implement a new computer-based financial management system
Must be a high long distance bill for calls to India...
As a matter of fact, she does spend a lot of time talking to India--and Kenya and Thailand and Nigeria--but not because her company's IT department has been outsourced. She works for an international public health non-profit that has offices in 39 developing countries.

Happily, her company pays the phone bills. (Actually, *you* pay the phone bills, since her company receives most of its funding from the USAID.)
Cheers, | | David
Ron
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Post by Ron »

Harold wrote:I've always had a bit of mistrust of anyone who claims to know precisely what he wants out of life at the age of 19.
Sometimes, life has a way of making that decision for you...

- Ron
Harold
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Post by Harold »

Ron wrote:
Harold wrote:I've always had a bit of mistrust of anyone who claims to know precisely what he wants out of life at the age of 19.
Sometimes, life has a way of making that decision for you...

- Ron
Oh I know that. Those of us who were able to putter around university campuses (and peaceful "find ourselves" trips abroad) thinking about life for years at a time were fortunate indeed.
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