The experienced v.s. the educated: to grad or not to grad?

, Beacon Correspondent/strong

The American job market took a nosedive, leaving many students wondering if graduate school would help them avoid being 22 and jobless. Three years have passed and although the job market isn’t peaking, there has been progress.

President Obama said in his job speech on Thursday, Sept. 8 that the goal of the American Job Act is to put people back to work and put money in the pockets of those who are working. While this may not change everything, Obama said it will provide a jolt to the economy.

Rob Balchunas, a 2009 Emerson graduate with a visual and media arts degree under his belt, chose to test the job market waters instead of pursuing a master’s degree.

After spending some time in the television industry, Balchunas came to the conclusion that experience outweighs a fancy degree.

“It’s who you know that will get you your first job, and what you know that will continue in helping grow your career,” Balchunas said.  “I decided that it wasn’t really necessary with what I wanted to do,” he said in a phone interview.

Now, Balchunas supplements a fat Hollywood paycheck by dabbling in the business of extreme balloon making.

If you’re debating whether grad school or balloon making is right for you, Career Services is a place where you can get some help determing what path to take after college. Information pertaining to specific majors and possible job interviews are there for the taking. Molly Drenzek, a receptionist at Career Services, said the entire online career services database contains a list of employers who are looking for the skills Emerson students have to offer.

Drenzek said that Career Services offers to perform mock interviews and other interview help. Services even little things with students, such as a weak handshake, can make a difference, Drenzek said.

The mock interviews are videotaped and available for the interviewee to watch after. To make it even simpler, students refer to their Emerson account, click on the search engine feature and find a job based on major, employer, or location. “What’s neat about this is that we know that they are trusted employers,” said Drenzek.

While some students peruse databases and advertisements for jobs, there are others who choose to take the path to higher learning. Peter Hall stuck by his alma mater and continued on to Emerson graduate school. Hall, also a 2009 alumnus, graduated with the same degree as Balchunas, visual and media arts. “A lot of TV shows weren’t hiring. So, I thought that I would go on and further my education,” said Hall in a phone interview.

In a recent post-graduation survey that was distributed to 843 bachelor’s degree students on Emerson’s website, 45 percent said they found employment and 9 percent reported to be enrolling in graduate or professional school. Some current students at Emerson are unsure as to what the future holds in the job market. Jen Stafford, a junior journalism major, says she will not be attending grad school but is looking into working for the Boston Bruins as a journalist instead.

Balchunas and Hall agreed that their time at Emerson and participation in internships were valuable preparation for the real world. Balchunas emphasized that meeting people is important because they are the people who will eventually work with you and help you out in the future.

Although Hall has finished getting his master’s degree he has yet to lock down a permanent job. He is hopeful for his career future. “The relationships I have made with people throughout graduate school has made it easier,” he said.

Because of the connections Hall made in graduate school he has had the opportunity to travel to Spain, Chile, and Iceland.

It’s difficult to determine whether Balchunas or Hall is more successful. Balchunas works in his field but performs odd jobs to make ends meet. Hall has been able to travel the world, but he has yet to be hired in the film industry. No matter the path you choose to take post-grad, one thing is certain: building connections is the key. It’s like the President said, “We’re all connected, and…there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.”

So whether you move on to grad school or dive into the working world, remember the Emerson nation, and who knows, your old roommate could be the connection you need.

emDelma can be reached at/em

em ashley_delma@emerson.edu./em

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Photo Caption:

emRob Balchunas poses with a balloon sculpture of Conan O’Brien and the ginger-bearded comedian himself./em

Photo Courtesy of Rob Balchunas