Few CBS grads go to work right away

Students say the college aims only to prepare them for more school.

Few CBS grads go to work right away

When Carah Kucharski receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to jump straight into the workforce.

But the University of Minnesota genetics, cell biology and development senior said taking College of Biological Sciences classes to prepare her for work after graduation has been difficult because they aren’t focused on the industry.

In a 2013 CBS Dean’s Office survey, only about 6 percent of CBS seniors said an undergraduate degree was the highest degree they planned on earning.

Since the majority of CBS students plan to attend further schooling, options for those who want to go straight into the workforce are advertised less, Kucharski said.

“I don’t even know where to start in looking for internships,” she said. “[In the] career center, there are plenty of med school internships, but not really for industry.”

About 58 percent of students surveyed by CBS said they plan to receive a professional degree after graduation. About 22 percent plan to earn a doctorate, and 14 percent plan to earn a master’s degree.

Career Center for Science and Engineering Director Mark Sorenson-Wagner said counselors at the center help students prepare for further schooling or work after graduation — like suggesting they attend University career fairs to connect with people in industry.

Biochemistry senior Peter Gorman, who hopes to work at Cargill after graduating, said career fairs were helpful because he could figure out his options and meet industry recruiters in person.

But Kucharski said most CBS students overlook industry as a viable option for career or internship opportunities because they mainly concentrate on going to medical school.

“CBS only focuses on the knowledge you need to know to get accepted somewhere else,” she said.

Sorenson-Wagner said CBS students start from the point of view that they’ll go on to further schooling, whereas College of Science and Engineering students don’t.

“What we see a lot of, especially for CSE, the engineering students typically go straight into industry,” he said. “I think that one of the struggles as well [is] a lot of CBS students coming in thinking they want to go into [a] pre-health field, research, etc.”

CBS offers a one-credit class called Biology Colloquium to students who are interested in learning about their career options.

“A lot of freshmen come in thinking about med school,” associate biology professor Kathryn Hanna said. “But a lot will change their mind. … Part of my goal is to show them careers they’ve never heard of.”

Each year, about 150 students take the colloquium class, Hanna said, and about two-thirds of the students are in CBS.

Professionals from different fields visit the class to talk about their work, Hanna said, and students take a field trip to a company.

Gorman, who took the colloquium concurrently with his internship, said the class helped him evaluate whether he wanted to continue in the field, but his other biochemistry classes don’t apply to his internship because they’re research-heavy.

“Everything we study is pretty directed to going into med school,” he said.

Kucharski said she wished her classes would teach students how to apply their research to industry rather than just focus on the medical field or conducting basic research.

Biology senior McKenzie Fitzgerald said when she interned for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Crofton, Neb., she only needed a basis of ecology, and she learned most skills in the field rather than in the classroom.

The career center is trying to teach students about other options by bringing in companies, Sorenson-Wagner said, but it’s up to CBS students to consider other options beyond graduate or professional schools.

Before his internship experience at Medtronic, biology junior Andrew Taylor said he was set on medical or dental school.

“Experience in industry … it’s definitely changed my mind and perspective about opportunities available to CBS students,” he said.

Taylor said resources that students need to find internships and careers are there if they put in extra effort to find them.

Gorman and Taylor said they used GoldPASS, a University networking database, and attended career fairs to connect with potential employers.

Hanna said students could also connect with local companies through temporary staffing agencies, a service the University doesn’t provide.

“There’s a whole other world out there,” she said.