- Alina Selby ’14
- Hometown: Finleyville, PA
- Major: Mechanical engineering
I’ve always been interested in how things work and how I can make things more efficient.
Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that as a parent you are concerned about your student's well-being from the beginning. This is why we have created a list of our most popular parent-asked questions.
- What services does the Office of Career Development provide?
- How can my student learn about what career options are available?
- What is the connection between my student’s choice of major and ultimate career?
- My student is interested in many different areas, and can’t figure out what to major in. What should he or she do?
- My student wants to major in something that seems impractical. What are the risks or benefits of majoring in an obscure field?
- My student is deeply involved in one or two extracurricular activities, but his or her grades might be a little better if he or she cut back on them and concentrated more on studying. Will that help him/her get a better job after graduation?
- What are some ways employers look for new hires?
- What is the connection between earnings and choice of undergraduate major?
- What do employers evaluate when they consider job candidates?
- What’s the difference between a job and an internship? Are all internships unpaid?
- What resources are available to help my student find a job?
- My student has just finished her/his freshman year. How important is it that he or she have a career-related summer job or internship?
- Given our financial situation, my student needs to earn as much as possible during the summer and the school year. How do employers look at students who have a lot of work experience, but may not have much career-related experience?
- How can I help my student best prepare for a graduate school?
- What is the range of graduate and professional school options available to Mount Union graduates?
- Are graduate school training and credential always good to have, even if you are not sure that you want to be in a particular field?
- Is graduate or professional school necessary for being competitive in the job market?
- Is taking time off before going to graduate or professional school looked down upon?
- Are there any particular majors that are better than others for specific graduate programs?
- How can I support my student in his or her quest to find a good vocational and graduate school fit?
- What does it mean that my student wants a Ph.D. in an academic subject? Will he or she ever be able to find a job?
- What can Career Development provide your student in his or her efforts to prepare for graduate school?
What services does the Office of Career Development provide?
Career Development offers guidance on all aspects of career planning, job searching, as well as preparing for graduate school. We provide individual counseling through scheduled appointments and “walk-ins,” where students can come without an appointment to get quick questions asked and answered. We maintain substantial resources including places to find summer jobs, internships and full-time post-graduate positions, and facilitate the preparation for their job search through assistance with resumes, cover letters, interviewing practice, and networking skills.
The Office of Career Development provides students the opportunity to post their resumes on College Central Network. This Internet based company allows students to search potential employers as well as employers to find the perfect Mount Union student for their company.
We also work with students on the application process to graduate and professional school, including advising on application strategies, reviewing personal statements, and graduate school essays.Back to List
We operate an exceptional Career Library with up-to-date resources on career fields, graduate programs, internships, local resources, and potential employers.
We also manage a network of alumni/alumnae who volunteer to talk to Mount Union students about the preparation for future careers. These dedicated alumni/alumnae come to campus to participate in workshops on career fields and graduate study, job fairs, as well as mock interviews and one-on-one personal discussions.
We run an extremely active On-Campus Recruiting program through which employers come to Mount Union to present their organizations to our students, as well as interview them for summer jobs and internships, and permanent positions.
How can my student learn about what career options are available?Back to List
There are many ways for students to explore the vast range of career opportunities available to them. Students who meet with a Career Development staff member will be directed to many of the following resources and empowered to continue searching these resources to their satisfaction.
The Career Development Library contains a wealth of information on career fields and options within those fields.
The career advisors are knowledgeable in the latest career and personality assessments. Students can take these short assessments and learn what career fields work best with their personalities.
Online Job Boards contain unlimited postings from around the country. Students who are questioning what to do with their major can look at these boards and see what jobs are available in the market.
Through extracurricular activities, jobs and internships, and volunteer service, students can “try on” different roles, experience different environments, and uncover the opportunities that exist in different types of organizations.
Students can browse College Central Network to see which employers are searching for Mount Union students.
Students can also utilize other campus resources such as Counseling Services, Student Employment, the Office of Alumni Activities, and especially professors.
What is the connection between my student’s choice of major and ultimate career?Back to List
This is a very complicated issue, because some fields of study connect very directly to specific career fields, while others may not have intrinsic connections, though lead to impressive and stable career options. For example, a major in Architecture or Education will prepare a student for graduate study in the field or jobs as an architect or teacher. However, students with these majors, and the skills attained from their studies, may also seek positions in fields similar, but not directly connected, to those degrees. The architect might opt to teach art in a private school and the education major may get a job as a consultant at a textbook publishing company.
Majors without clear “links” to specific career fields, however, offer students content knowledge and transferable skills that prove highly competitive both in employment and graduate study. Career Development distributes and analyzes a post-graduate survey that details the activities of our students after their time at Mount Union. This can give you a picture of what students from different disciplines have accomplished with their majors.
My student is interested in many different areas, and can’t figure out what to major in. What should he or she do?Back to List
It’s extremely common for students to have a broad range of interests, and to feel a bit overwhelmed about having to choose one thing to study. First year students are encouraged to take BA143, Integrating College and Life Options: Know Yourself. This course is intended to generate an enhanced level of self-awareness related to integrating college and life choices, including choosing a major and career path. Students are given opportunities to take personality/career assessments, interact with a peer mentor, and understand current trends that will affect the job market.
We also encourage students to explore a number of different fields in their first few semesters, and to talk to faculty and upper-classmen in different majors. We direct students to our vast Career Library where they can browse books about areas of interest to them. Also, on our website we have included information detailing specific majors and the related career fields. Finally, academic advisors will work with students to help them choose a course of study.
My student wants to major in something that seems impractical. What are the risks or benefits of majoring in an obscure field?Back to List
The most important element in determining a choice of major should be the student’s interest in and ability to do well in the field. In general, if students are interested and engaged in a subject, they will have a greater success rate and have a much more rewarding educational experience. When students are excited about their studies, they communicate that enthusiasm, to their faculty, to graduate schools, and to employers -- resulting in lifelong relationships with professors, in a broader choice of where to continue their education, and in a much wider choice of job options both during the summers and after graduation.
Often disciplines that seem impractical are highly attractive to a very wide range of employers and graduate schools. As examples, History and Sociology students have found themselves in positions assisting on clinical trials, continuing studies in public health, and/or working for national or international health advocacy organizations, like the Red Cross. Philosophy majors can hold great interest for consulting firms, political candidates, and/or government organizations, in addition to law schools.
Suffering through a so-called practical discipline in which a student has no interest or ability to succeed makes the educational experience much less rewarding and successful, both while at Mount Union and after graduation. Through elective courses, students can fill in the practical gaps while concentrating on subject matter that interests them. For example, a Finance major who might be interested in a person-centered career can take courses in psychology and communication to acquire easily transferable skills.
My student is deeply involved in one or two extracurricular activities, but his or her grades might be a little better if he or she cut back on them and concentrated more on studying. Will that help him/her get a better job after graduation?Back to List
Some employers consider it extremely important that students are “well rounded,” including involvement in activities outside of class. For example, participation in student government, on athletic teams, and in Greek organizations all provide opportunities for students to work in teams and on projects that develop skills different from those used in the classroom.
If students spread themselves too thin, and are involved in so many organizations that their academics suffer, they may be encouraged to narrow down their activities to one or two that they find particularly rewarding, and focus on improving their academic work. However, if the difference in academic performance is insignificant (for example, the difference between a 3.56 and a 3.68), then participation in extra-curricular activity can be beneficial to the student.
Finally, where extra-curricular activities are concerned, in general employers prefer depth to breadth. Substantial involvement in one or two activities in which a student has achieved a leadership role is far preferable to superficial involvement in a multitude of different activities.
- Organization’s Internship or Co-op program
- On-campus Recruiting
- Career/Job Fairs
- Networking Contacts and Referrals
- Student Organizations
- Internet Job Postings (www.monster.com, www.collegecentralnetwork.com, or company web sites)
- Job Postings Sent to the Office of Career Development
What is the connection between earnings and choice of undergraduate major?Back to List
In the long term, there is no clear correlation between undergraduate major and earnings. The issue is one of career path, and that (as discussed above) is only indirectly connected to area of study. While some fields (law, medicine) are associated with higher salaries than others, there is often no direct connection between major and the ability to pursue these careers. For example, English majors who complete their pre-medical requirements apply to medical school successfully and religious studies majors are admitted to law school.
What do employers evaluate when they consider job candidates?Back to List
Employers look at a wide range of factors. As with most career-related issues, what will be most important will vary depending on the type of employer. They will consider curriculum, grade point average, transferable skills acquired, employment/internship history and volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, and “fit.” Depending on the employer, these qualities will be weighted differently. Some employers will focus more on work experience in their field; others will focus on level of leadership activity, and others on grades. In general, employers look for students who have performed well in a variety of areas.
What’s the difference between a job and an internship? Are all internships unpaid?Back to List
While often the terms job and internship are used interchangeably, in the case of post-graduate positions, the term job is generally associated with work that is ongoing (has no end date), while the term internship is associated with a time-delimited position, ranging from one semester to two years. At Mount Union, internships are more academically focused; students can receive class credit for internships.
In the case of summer positions, calling a position a job or an internship gets very murky, and is simply a matter of choice on the part of the employer. Some summer jobs are called internships, and visa versa, and all are time-delimited. However, the main difference in this case is that internships are associated with the opportunity for students to learn something specific or new.
Internships can be paid or unpaid. The term internship does not necessarily imply that a position is unpaid, though often that may be the case. For post-graduate positions, those specifically designated as internships are quite likely to be paid. Likewise, it is possible that an employer may offer an unpaid summer job.
- Through College Central Network and other online Job Boards, students can search for opportunities using a range of search criteria including location, type of industry, and type of job.
- We operate an exceptional Career Library with up-to-date resources on career fields, internships, local resources, and potential employers.
- We run an extremely active On-Campus Recruiting program through which employers come to Mount Union to present their organizations to our students, as well as interview them for summer jobs and internships, and permanent positions.
My student has just finished her/his freshman year. How important is it that he or she have a career-related summer job or internship?Back to List
It is not essential that students have a career-related internship after their first year. However, it can be helpful for students to take a job or internship during the summer or even during the school year that enables them to explore career fields that they think might interest them but that they have not yet experienced.
Mount Union does not permit students to have internships before their second year of school. The reason for this is that we want our students to have sufficient background knowledge before entering the working world.
Given our financial situation, my student needs to earn as much as possible during the summer and the school year. How do employers look at students who have a lot of work experience, but may not have much career-related experience?Back to List
Employers ultimately want employees who are hard workers, and a track record of serious hard work is impressive. While there may be some fields where lack of any experience can be an obstacle to permanent employment, Career Services Advisors will work with students to overcome these obstacles. There may be classes that offer practical experience, or other ways for students to develop the skills a particular employer might seek.
How can I help my student best prepare for a graduate school?Back to List
While at Mount Union, your student should take advantage of the exceptional liberal arts education available to become a broadly educated person with a sophisticated understanding of our complex, global society. She or he will also develop intellectual abilities as well as analytical and communication skills during his or her tenure at Mount.
In addition to developing general knowledge, another significant goal during these years is to choose a major, or more focused area of study, and explore a field that he or she finds interesting. By so doing, he or she will learn about his or her own intellectual talents, and ultimately develop confidence in ability to succeed. This confidence is a key component of success in any graduate program. Parents who are supportive of their students’ undergraduate experience are assisting their students in preparation for future academic achievement.
Parents question whether any particular major best prepares a student for graduate school. The answer to this relies upon the type of degree pursued. For law, business and medical school, no single major provides an edge over another. Faculty in these professional degree programs like students to have a solid liberal arts education and good general knowledge. Of course, medical schools do require students to take a series of required courses before admittance. Ph.D. programs in particular fields of the Arts and Sciences usually require applicants to have extensive preparation in the area of study, along with recommendations and mentoring from faculty in that field.
Other ways to encourage your student to prepare for graduate study are to remind your student to cultivate relationships with faculty, and to encourage him or her to visit Career Services and his or her Academic Advisor to learn about prerequisite courses and practical or volunteer experiences necessary or useful for application for graduate study in particular fields, as well as to get assistance with applications.
What is the range of graduate and professional school options available to Mount Union graduates?Back to List
Graduate school encompasses courses in fields of study as different as a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.), a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), a J.D., or an M.D., among many others. The thing to keep in mind about graduate study is that it is more technical and specific than undergraduate schooling,and it sometimes combines academic and practical training. Professional masters degrees, like the M.B.A. or the M.S.W., are practical degrees that prepare students for specific career paths. Their curricula are often multi-disciplinary and can include semester- and year-long practica.
Are graduate school training and credential always good to have, even if you are not sure that you want to be in a particular field?
Graduate school training is a very useful credential if one has a reasonable idea why one wants a particular degree.
Some poor reasons to go to graduate school include:
- Not wanting to work in an entry level job or to deal with a challenging job market.
- Belief that one must keep up the academic momentum of the undergraduate years or one will never get back to study.
- Belief that a graduate degree automatically translates into higher pay or allows one to circumvent the apprenticeship period of most career pathways.
- Belief that one must set out on a vocational course because of time pressure even if one is uncertain about its suitability.
Some good reasons to go to graduate school include:
- Using the training and credential as a stepping stone to achieve well thought out career goals.
- Taking advantage of the opportunity for education in a field that is of strong interest and obvious vocational fit.
Is graduate or professional school necessary for being competitive in the job market?Back to List
This depends upon the field. If one is working in software development, for instance, an undergraduate degree may be sufficient. Some business leaders, for example, are presently questioning whether an M.B.A. early in one’s career is an appropriate means to develop one’s soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, communication and the ability to think creatively. There may be a growing preference for individuals who have improved their skills through real life experiences.
Other fields, such as medicine and other areas of health care, law, library science, or academic careers, require graduate training. Good background research will enable your student to determine the most appropriate educational path. This can be accomplished through conversations with faculty, career and graduate school advisors and friends and alumni in the intended field, along with internships and entry level experience, the Web and in our Career library.
Is taking time off before going to graduate or professional school looked down upon?Back to List
Given the broad range of graduate programs and their various requirements for admittance, there is no single answer to this question. Many professional degrees prefer applicants with two to three years of experience in a relevant area of work. Certain career paths such as medicine or a Ph.D. in the Arts or Sciences require a profound level of personal commitment. With this said, it is best if an applicant has had enough related experiences in order to make an informed judgment about what the practice of medicine or a career as a professor entail.
On the other hand, certain fields, like a Ph.D. in Mathematics or Economics, require applicants to have quantitative skills in top form, and it may be best to apply early to Ph.D. programs in these areas so that the student will begin the program soon after undergraduate completion. Again, gathering information about the field is the best way to prepare for a particular graduate degree.
Are there any particular majors that are better than others for specific graduate programs?Back to List
Law, business and medical schools do not favor any particular major. Graduate programs in other areas, however, may require a strong foundation in a certain discipline. Your student should talk to faculty and his or her Academic Advisor or other individuals in the field.
How can I support my student in his or her quest to find a good vocational and graduate school fit?Back to List
Give your student some time to explore different disciplines with the understanding that one never knows where these explorations could lead. Encourage him or her to take advantage of internships or research opportunities in a field of interest, and to talk with people who work in those areas.
What does it mean that my student wants a Ph.D. in an academic subject? Will he or she ever be able to find a job?Back to List
If your student is considering pursuing a Ph.D. in an academic subject, he or she is committing him- or herself to a program of intense study and research. To get through the rigors of a doctoral program, he or she must have a passion for what he or she does and rigorous intellectual self-discipline. There is, however, great reward in completing major research projects and contributing new insights to a discipline.
As to the question of finding a job, there are opportunities for Ph.D.’s both within and outside of academia. Academic jobs often require individuals to relocate to another part of the country, however, graduates from doctoral programs work in universities, in research organizations, and in higher education administration, as well as think tanks, the government, and the private sector.
- What can Career Development provide your student in his or her efforts to prepare for graduate school?
Career Development has two professional advisors and two graduate interns who serve undergraduates and alumni considering or applying to graduate or professional school. Our advisors help students in some of the following areas: determining the fit between graduate programs, career plans and vocational interests, educating applicants about the details of the application process, pinpointing optimal application strategies, and financing professional or graduate school. Our advisors also read applicants’ personal statements and provide critiques. Finally, we also encourage our students to meet with faculty for current advice about the most appropriate programs in their disciplines.