From 2005-2008, Northwestern’s graduates were placed in jobs or graduate school at rates between 95 and 98 percent. These days the figure looks more like 90 percent.
Despite dropping placement numbers, Bill Minnick, director of career development at NW said, “Things are progressively getting better.”
However, he stressed that the students who have an easier time finding jobs are the ones who are preparing all through college.
“Freshmen and sophomores should come in and meet with Kirsten (Brue),” Minnick said, “Talk about your major and see what you can do with these jobs that are available.”
Students can look to the experiences of those who have graduated before them as they attempt to navigate a slow job market and often uncertain personal circumstances.
Jared White graduated in December of 2010. While completing his degree, he learned the craft of brewing beer off campus. On a trip to Duluth, Minn., White had the opportunity to sit down with Dale, the brewmaster of Lake Superior Brewing Company.
Dale encouraged White to send in a résumé. After getting married to Breeann Rosenboom (‘11) this past summer, the two moved up to Duluth to pursue White’s dream of becoming a full-time brewer.
White said that it’s stressful trying to pay the bills but he finds contentment in brewing and spending his time with his wife, whom he considers his best friend.
“No social life” is how Matt Leither (‘09) described the difference between NW and his new endeavor—medical school. Before becoming a full-fledged doctor, Leither has four years of school and three to four years of residency after that.
Although quitting is a constant temptation, Leither finds motivation to continue in unlikely places.
“Riding the bus every day, I am reminded (why I do this),” Leither said.
However, it isn’t just the prospect of his own mode of transportation or the big bucks that compels Leither to become a doctor.
“Every day I see the people that need help and can’t afford it,” Leither said. “In order for me to help anyone, I need to finish.”
Likewise, 2009 graduate Amy Borchers was inspired to help. After a stressful time trying to have a career in video production, Borchers joined the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) program.
At YWAM, Borchers had the opportunity to do focused evangelism in either China, India or Cambodia. She ended up in Cambodia, her third choice, and specifically in the village of Bakong.
“Our base is surrounded by lots of sex-trafficking and prostitution,” Borchers said. “I learned compassion to the max.”
Her three-month experience there motivated her to stay longer and pursue long-term mission work in Southeast Asia. After Thanksgiving and Christmas at home, Borchers will be going back again in January.
In the meantime, she is experimenting with hydroponics—a method of growing plants in mineral-rich nutrient solutions without soil—in hopes of bringing back some sustainable ideas for development in the village that she fell in love with.
Senior Wincy Ho is hoping to take a few years off before she jumps into having a full-time career.
Ho feels she needs more maturity and more education before attempting a career. She is from Hong Kong but said that she likes the American lifestyle.
“It’s more laid back,” Ho said. “Hong Kong is 7.5 million people and it gets very competitive.”
In the meantime, she hopes to do some musical composition and perhaps work as in intern in clinics doing music therapy.
“In a city of 7.5 million people there are only 35 music therapists,” Ho said, confident that her specialty will be in high demand.
Like Ho, senior Jennifer Carlson is hoping to gain some valuable life experiences before settling down into adult life.
Last summer, Carlson worked in Denver, Colo., at Dry Bones, a mission organization which works with homeless teens and young adults on the streets. She plans to work with the organization again this summer but this time by raising her own support.
“I might work at a coffee shop, live in van and get a membership to 24-Hour Fitness,” Carlson said.
Carlson eventually hopes that living simply will allow her to save up enough money to travel.
Senior Bobby James is a Christian education major with a focus on youth ministry. The experiences he has had at NW and in internship opportunities have helped shape his goals for post-graduation. Right now he’s unsure if he’ll go somewhere else after NW or stay in Orange City.
“I feel too young for church politics. I need some maturity, some life knowledge,” James said about his choice to wait before finding a job specific to his major.
However, James said his dream job would be “teaching youth about leadership by using the wilderness as a classroom.”
Even though James and his fiancée Natalia Mueller have not made solid plans for post-graduation, he isn’t worried about the future.
“We know lots of people we can talk to,” James said.
This is how Minnick sees students succeeding after college.
“Networking is very important,” Minnick said.