Done With Graduate Studies, Now Off To Find A Job

Completing a graduate degree after college is the dream of many young people. According to the data of the National Center for Education Statistics, an office under the US Education Department, approximately 1,514 schools provide graduate level education. 898 of these prepare students for professional life with an MBA. Just in 2002, the number of students who had an M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) was 120,785.
While the hunt for students among different schools creates a questionable quality in terms of the education offered, the young people are worried about finding a job after completing this education that they paid a high price for. 

International students also have to tackle the visa status problem along with finding a job. In particular, foreign nationals sometimes have to accept low salary offers from firms in order to get  work permits.
Meryem Demirtas, who is pursuing a master’s degree in marketing at the City University of New York’s Baruch College in New York is one of those who has prepared her resume before graduating. Demirtas, 24 years old, who works at the Business Direct Marketing Resource Center within her school, says that she also is concerned about being able to find a job after her education much like anyone else. Demirtas, who is a Koç University management graduate, says, “If I fail to get a job for a long time after school, I will return to Turkey. I would not want to be more of a drag on my family.” 

Demirtas, who is paying 15 thousand dollars for 1.5 years of study for her marketing degree at Baruch College and who says that New York has big opportunities as far as marketing experience, also states that there is a huge competition in the work environment and that only having a graduate degree is not enough. “You are in a race with different people from different parts of the world and you really need to be exceptional,” she says.

Currently there are no professional institutions for Turks in the US helping with the difficulties of finding employment. There are some e-mail lists, which committed themselves voluntarily to this task. “This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.” is one of them. As of the beginning of May, the group has 4663 members. Its founder is Kagan Cebi, who is employed at a German bank trading stocks and bonds in Houston, Texas. Mr. Cebi, a US citizen says, “I was miserable when I was looking for a job. The reason for starting this group is to prevent people from going through the same troubles.” He draws attention to the difficulties he, as a US citizen, has faced finding employment. “There were young Turks around me, who were smarter and had better education than me. I witnessed that there was no network among Turkish employers and the difficulties finding a job. I wanted to spread the solidarity existent between other nationals,” he continues.

Most of the members of the group, which has been active for 2.5 years, are under 30. There are also people living in Turkey among its members.

Ezgi Gulcan, who finished her graduate studies at City College in New York after graduating from Bogazici University, one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey, as a chemical engineer, tells how difficult the one year of job hunting was. Ms. Gulcan, who at the end started working for a company in Long Island she did not want to, says, “When you go to an interview, the first question they ask is ‘Do you have a Green Card?’ The second question is ‘Will you be needing a sponsor in the future?’ If you don’t have a green card and you need a sponsor, they never even get back to you.” Ms. Gulcan, who is staying in the US with an Optional Practical Training (OPT) certificate issued by her school, says that she has to return to Turkey, if she is not happy with her job. Ms. Gulcan draws attention to the importance of having a contact within a company in order to find a job.

Ugur Erbas, who finished his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at City College in New York, states that he has been looking for a job for six months, and emphasizes how important the impact of the the economic recession has been on hiring new employees. “The companies prefer to hire people with experience rather than train entry-level personnel. They consider experience more than citizenship and green card,” he says. He explains that companies requiring citizenship are mostly companies doing business in the defense or aviation sectors. Mr. Erbas says, “I have six more months to find a job. After that, the legality problem arises and financial possibilities get tighter. To pursue my career I am ready to work for a low salary.”

Finding a job is not only a problem for students in New York. Kevser Altuntas, who finished her master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Houston in Texas, says that she couldn’t find work equivalent to her level of education in Houston. Ms. Altuntas, who worked as a trainee at the United Nations and at the Consulate General of Turkey in Paris, points out that idealist thinking lessens, as you get closer to graduation. She says, “You can be an idealist on many issues, but the necessity to stand on your own feet might divert you from your ideals.” Ms. Altuntas is an alumna of Bilkent University, Political Sciences and Public Administration Department.

Tuba Ozyildirim is another example of a person who wants to reinforce his or her work experience with graduate study. She is a graduate of Istanbul University Faculty of Law and is currently pursing a master’s degree in Political Science at Brooklyn College. She says, “There are plenty of jobs, but finding a job relevant to your specialization is difficult.” Moreover, she adds, “With all the stress, you have to stay alive to find a job.” After practicing law for two years in Istanbul, Ms. Ozyildirim has also doubts about being paid fairly at any job she might. She does not deny the contribution of graduate studies to her professional development and considers it as an important step on the path towards obtaining a work permit.

Not every student finishing a graduate degree goes through the same difficulties. It can vary depending on the school graduated from. A diploma awarded by leading US universities such as Harvard, Stanford, or MIT is a big advantage when starting a career. Some companies will hire students before they graduate if those students have a solid transcipt and a high grade point average. 84% of students studying management at Harvard can find a job right after graduation.

74% of Stanford graduates do enter the business world in a short time. For a graduate of these schools, finding employment after a short time is easier. The employment rate for graduates of Harvard, Columbia, MIT and Stanford after three months is around 90%. The employment rate after three months for graduates of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire is 94.9%.
Meryem Demirtas. (By Sevda Bahceci)

Many students of Turkey’s best universities are being conditioned to carry on their graduate studies in the US while they are in the middle of their undergraduate studies. Besides students of long established universities such as Bogazici, Bilkent, ODTU, students of private universities such as Koc, Sabanci, and Bilgi determine the path of their education in accordance with this awareness. Meryem Demirtas is a graduate of Koc University School of Business and notes the change of students’ perspectives, depending on the school they are attending.

Ms. Demirtas, who transferred to Koc University School of Management after completing her first year at Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir describes how her “classmates at Dokuz Eylul would think about passing a bank test and pursuing a career at that bank. After I started at Koc University, going for a career in US was almost a must,” and notes the philosophy in the US of standing on your own feet. “If you bow down, settle for what you have been given, you cannot achieve what you want in the US. You have to be ferocious,” says Ms. Demirtas.

After September 11, the US economy, which earns 13 billion dollars from foreign students annually, has been a little troubled. According to the data of the Institute of International Education, the number of applications for master’s and doctoral programs decreased 28% in the 2003-04 academic year. According to the data of the Council of Graduate Schools, which strives for academic student exchange, the biggest decrease occurred in applications from China. The applications of Chinese students dropped 34%. Indian students, with a decrease of19%, and Korean students with a decline of 12%, followed China. About 600 thousand foreign students are studying in the US, half of whom are attending graduate programs.

TOP 10 in MANAGEMENT        
SCHOOL                                                        A                    B             C            D
1- Harvard University (MA)                         $111,800     84.2       90.0        $ 35,600
2- Stanford University (CA)                        $109,973     74.0       90.9        $ 37,998
3- Uni. of Pennsylvania (Wharton)           $105,103     80.3       88.3        $ 39,835    
4- MIT (Sloan)                                              $104,309      80.0      90.7        $ 37,050
5- Northwestern Uni.(Kellogg, IL)            $104,309     71.1       90.6        $ 36,370    
6- Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH)          $106,027     75.3        94.9        $ 36,390  
7- Uni. of California–Berkeley (Haas)     $ 95,871      78.1        92.0        $ 33,758  
8- University of Chicago                            $100,676     77.6        87.6        $ 37,075    
9- Columbia University (NY)                     $101,578     78.8        90.1        $ 37,412   
10- Uni. of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)  $ 99,546      77.1        87.1        $ 36,688    

A- Average starting salary and bonus
B- Percentage of graduates employed at graduation
C- Percentage employed 3 months after graduation
D- Annual Tuition

Source: USNews, Data for the year 2004.

(July 2005, 17th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07