Graduates choose career alternatives

About one fourth of graduating seniors opted to continue their education rather than enter the job market. But other seniors chose to travel or volunteer, said Marva Gumbs, executive director of the Career Center.

Gumbs estimated about 20 to 25 percent of students will go directly to graduate school after graduation, while a small percentage of students will take time off.

“Some professions require an advanced degree,” Gumbs said. “And other students know that their undergraduate degree won’t give them the entrance into the career field that a graduate degree will.”

Gumbs said GW graduates traditionally work for a few years before entering graduate school either to get a degree in their chosen career field or to pursue a new career.

“As you move through several jobs you might find that you have a number of great skills, but you want to change,” Gumbs said. “So you might return to get the (credentials) and skills and education for a new career.”

Outgoing Student Association President David Burt said he will attend graduate school to prepare himself for the job market.

“I chose to go to grad school to be more developed as a professional and to learn more,” Burt said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Burt plans to earn a master of science degree in Information Technology from GW, but said he plans to travel this summer to visit friends.

Gumbs said traveling is a choice many students take following graduation.

“The four years of undergraduate study for some people have been intense, and they need a little bit of a break,” Gumbs said. “Maybe they’ve always wanted to travel, so they take some time off and travel the world.”

Other students choose to work for a non-profit group such as the Peace Corps and Americorps, instead of beginning a career after graduation. Americorps is a domestic version of the Peace Corps, which trains members to help educate individuals and improve living conditions in developing countries.

Paige Risser, Peace Corps public affairs specialist, said the organization is popular option for GW students.

“For a school of its size, (GW) is above average,” she said. “GW always lists high on our lists of schools.”

Thirty-six GW volunteers served oversees with the Peace Corps in 2000, ranking the University 22 on the list of top volunteer-producing colleges. GW has six volunteers so far this year, Risser said.

Graduate admissions offices and employers highly regard the Peace Corps, Gumbs said.

One 2001 graduate said Americorps offered a variety of programs and options.

Senior Jeanne Fischetti said she wanted to “take some time off and think” after graduating, so she decided to work on a Habitat for Humanity program through Americorps that will take her to Nebraska for 11 months to help build affordable housing. Fischetti said she plans to attend graduate school in the future, but she is not sure what she wants to study.

“I have no idea what I want to do and I don’t want to pay for a degree I might not like or need,” she said. “I wanted to do more hands-on type of stuff, not just sit in an office.”

Fischetti plans to continue her part-time job at the Public Broadcasting Station WETA until her program starts in August.

Senior Steve Siddell chose to take a month-long marine ecology class through one of GW’s summer programs. Although he plans a move to New York City to work and take comedy classes in September, Siddell said he decided to take the rest of the summer off, while working a “pay-the-bills” job and relaxing.

Gumbs said D.C. provides a number of opportunities for graduate school, taking time off, non-profit work or a career, but she stressed that one person’s direction after graduation may not be the best choice for another.

“Your decisions should be about individual needs and individual preferences,” she said. “And it’s wonderful that in this area we have options.”

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