Is Pacific Preparing Students for the workforce?

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Students from Pacific report on their post-graduation plans for employment. 

   College students spend much time reaching the goal of graduation, but reality is that is more a starting line than a finish line: What happens when you get there? Graduate school? A year off? Depart for an island?

   Sure, all possible. But eventually securing employment and generating income is the one reality that is immovable. While salaries vary depending on which of the 70 undergraduate majors, a year after graduating, the average salary is $50,000. 

   Charlotte Powell, a biology major who will graduate in May 2023, has no immediate plans to quit attending classes. After a year at Pacific, Powell realized she wanted to pursue pharmacy as a career. Starting in the fall of 2023, Powell will study pharmacy at Hilo University in Hawaii.

   “I started as a chemistry major and then found my path in the biology field,” explained Powell. “I think our courses are challenging but also educational in the sense that you’re learning difficult content and a very safe learning space.”

   Powell stated that she would feel confident in her ability to get employment even if she did not want to enroll in pharmacy school immediately after graduation. Powell allocates much of the credit to her professors and the amount of in-lab experience she gained at Pacific.

   “We only let our undergraduates into STEM labs, so we’re not competing with graduates, or graduate students are not teaching us,” expressed Powell. “It’s all taught by the professors.”

   Powell took part in Ecuador and the Galapagos on a short-term study abroad trip to advance her biology coursework and earn major credit. She believed Pacific provided her with many chances to broaden her expertise in the field and the lab. 

   A short walk across campus from the STEM buildings, David Allen, a senior accounting major with a management concentration, spent much time in Burgland Hall. After graduation, Allen already has a position lined up in Bend, Oregon. In the fall, professors persuaded Allen to attend a job fair that Pacific had organized for the students. He discovered Kernutt Stokes CPA company at the job fair, and within a few weeks of connecting with the management had a job lined up as an accountant. Allen had the option of working at any of the company’s three sites: in Bend, Eugene, and Corvallis.

   “Location was pretty important because I care about what is around me in terms of activities,” explained Allen. “I really like fishing, so when I am not working, I can enjoy the town of Bend and everything it has to offer.”

   Allen explained how his major in accounting allowed him to be selective about where and for whom he wanted to work, and that he never thought he would be stressed out finding a position after college. Allen felt relieved that Pacific had produced so many successful graduates from the accounting school and was confident that he would also be able to earn a comfortable living after graduation. Allen could appreciate his senior year. After all, he didn’t have to worry about what would come after graduation because he had a predetermined plan.

   Students receive numerous emails about career fairs throughout the academic year, but the majority of seniors who were surveyed on campus said they did not begin researching those job fairs until their senior year.

   “Going down the accounting path, I kind of knew that there were going to be jobs in that field, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to find a job after graduation,” expressed Allen. “The required accounting courses were challenging enough, and I believe that my business course background has really rounded out.”

   Allen believed that Wanda Freiser, the Director of Placement Services, was a huge asset in connecting students with employment possibilities. Allen believed he had a lot of resources during the academic year for finding a job after college, and when the time came to look into companies, he felt more than ready to start working right away, thanks to the experience he had acquired in the classroom.

   Allen also explained how his professor Laura McNally pushed for students to attend the Portland 2023 Accounting Career Expo. Allen felt Professor McNally always put high importance on ensuring her accounting students had a job lined up upon graduation and cared about them far beyond the classroom.

   “My professor pushed the job fair on us, making sure that we all had a plan on what we we’re going to do after graduation,” said Allen. “It was extremely helpful to have that push from your professors.” — Emily Rutkowski


Major: Journalism

Hometown: Mesa, Arizona

Hobbies: soccer, track, being outside, hiking, writing

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