Ivy League On The Market Place

by Melanie Prakash | 4/18/18 2:20am

by Amanda Zhou / The Dartmouth

Choosing to attend a private college comes at a price, a price many choose to pay in the hopes of obtaining a higher return. The College is ranked eighth on the list of the best universities and colleges on basis of salary potential according to PayScale, with alumni earning a median of $68,300 in the first five years of their career and reaching a median of $150,800 for those with ten or more years of experience.  Out of the top universities listed, Dartmouth’s average midosalary value ranks higher than Duke University, Harvard University and Yale University.

Many of the Class of 2018 have faced the reality of entering the job market. For many Dartmouth students, finding a job becomes a priority early on during their time at the College. 

“I think sophomore summer is when you’re first hit with the realization that you have to get a job after college [when] recruiting starts,” a member of the class 2018 said. 

The student recalled the struggle of going through recruiting for investment banking and consulting. She began looking for opportunities in software engineering, her present field of interest, shortly after. In comparison to other schools, she feels Dartmouth does not provide a diversity of professional support for its students. 

“My main friend from home goes to [the] University of Pennsylvania, which is far more pre-professional, so relative to her, I had a harder time getting a job in a technical field,” she said. She went on to critique Dartmouth for what she said is a narrow career support system. 

“The only preprofessional paths that [are] really clear at Dartmouth [are] the finance and consulting paths,” she said. “Otherwise, you have to do your research online or from some other source. It’s getting a little better, but I think it is still very finance-oriented.” 

Other students agree with this sentiment, saying that it feels at times as though Dartmouth’s resources are more geared towards preparing students for finance and consulting. 

“Generally, people at Dartmouth end up getting into high-paying jobs,” another student from the class of 2018 remarked. “I think that it kind of sucks that people who are not interested in [finance and economics] can kind of struggle ... I think a huge reason is that because those are the firms that reach out to us.” 

She said that there are certain majors that determine what type of job students look for after graduation. 

“Compared to my friends who are majoring in, like, environmental studies [and other fields] that don’t have a clear career path, [choosing a job is] a lot more difficult,” she said. “I feel like I had a set path that I kind of knew I could follow to obtain something at some point.”

Similarly, another senior reflected on how choosing another major could have impacted her career plans after graduation. 

“It’s just really interesting how equally smart people just based on their interest can have such different options in terms of job market,” she said.

This student, also going into software engineering, believes that technology-based majors can be much more pre-professional than other liberal arts majors.

“Some majors funnel you right in towards specific jobs [while] some majors are just about the liberal arts, and you can do anything,” she said. “A lot of people end up teaching, but a lot of people do something totally different.”

It is commonly acknowledged that the Ivy League brand does have pull in the job market. As a member of the Class of 2018 said, attending an Ivy League school is “helpful in the long run.” 

“Dartmouth just has the name recognition, the status, the prestige, the competition. ... I feel like people are looking for well-rounded employees who know how to problem solve, who know how to work in teams, who know how to work together and solve problems,” she said. 

Specifically with regards to the finance and economics job field, students find that Dartmouth offers a broad sprectrum of opportunities. She said that for students pursuing careers in finance, finding a job is easier because of the number of consulting and finance firms that recruit directly from the College.

However, despite the opportunities that accompany a degree from Dartmouth, graduating students still find the idea of making large salaries at a relatively young age to be an intimidating prospect. The students interviewed, who were all going into software engineering fields, where according to one student getting a job by the fall is more or less expected of the major, were aware of the magnitude of income they could potentially be offered. 

“Because I’m going into software engineering, I’ve always known that any internship or full-time offer I’ve got would have been more than sufficient just given the field, so personally for me that had never been a huge concern or something I had expectations of,” she said. The student explained that this reality diminished any interest in negotiating for a higher salary. “Without having a network of support to feel okay negotiating, it’s very nerve wracking and scary,” she said. 

One student faced the intimidation of salary negotiations by seeking advice from a sibling. 

“I called [my brother] and ... he said when the recruiter offers you a salary position you should ask for $10,000 more,” she said. The student said the prospect of negotiating her salary made her uncomfortable, but was reminded by her brother that “if you don’t ask for it you’re not going to get it.”

The student also talked about the confidence needed to negotiate a higher salary, especially as a college graduate with little experience.

“I [also] think it’s because we were talking such big numbers, it felt greedy and selfish, because the salary they offered I could have easily lived off of,” she said. 

Similarly, most of the students interviewed felt income was not the deciding factor in choosing their job post graduation. 

“[During] my summer internship, I was working at a startup and it was great,” one student from the graduating class of 2018 remembered. “I loved the culture. [However], even for a software engineering start up,  they paid very,  very low.”

The student went on to recall what it was like learning how to budget money to make sure she could cover all her living necessities. When applying for a job in the fall, she was now aware of a general propensity of how much she was willing to save and how much she was willing to spend. 

“I don’t think it was the biggest thing on my mind, but I definitely know that as a person that likes spending money, I wanted to do a job that would allow me to live a certain type of lifestyle,” she said.

Regardless, all the students acknowledge that Dartmouth helped them prepare for the wider world. From fostering teamwork skills to broadening their perspectives, they knew they had unique skills that would set them apart from competing applicants. 

“I think for me, Dartmouth has been a really positive experience in that I’ve been able to stand out because of the size of the school, and in that sense I have a lot more opportunities to pick up and grow as a person,” a senior in the class of 2018 said. “You don’t get lost in the wave of students. You can stand out, [but] you have to reaffirm that constantly here.”

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