Career Services Discusses Grad Planning


Bernard Stratford currently works as a director of experiential education at the office of Career Services, providing career education as well as managing the undergraduate internship program. Prior to his current position, Stratford was the director of Career Services as well as dean of students at the Rose Hill, Lincoln Center and Westchester campuses. The Observer had the opportunity to talk with Stratford about students’ plans to pursue jobs after graduation.

Observer: Which majors have better job opportunities and which ones do not?

Bernard Stratford: There is a misconception that the world of work is looking for certain majors. They are looking for people that are creative, analytical, collaborative, adaptable, reflective and good problem solvers.

It is not so much about the major; it is about a student’s skills and abilities that are being developed throughout their academic experience. Students should have self-awareness and understand their own skills and abilities as well as awareness of the world of work.

College students do not have the luxury to not pay attention to what is going on in the world of work. Everyone needs to pay attention to it because the job market changes dramatically through technology, innovation and collaboration.

Observer: Where can students go to find out information about jobs that are hiring?

BS: They should refer to the Career Service center. Every undergraduate has a CareerLinks account. As importantly, they should reach out to the Career Service office to meet with a counselor. My advice would be to seek advice and formulate a plan based on awareness and preparation like academics, resumes or cover letters.  Another key part is students need to prepare a presentation. It is critical that they begin with themselves. They should have an idea of what they want to present.

Observer: What should be the next step for students who do not find a job in their career path? Should they settle for a job that is not within their career path?

BS: They need to look for things that are connected, the things that remain constant and consistent and most of those things would be the skill sets. For example, someone who wants a career path in advertising should move over to public relations or a marketing position. Before they navigate away from an area, they should have an awareness of the area and understand what the obstacles are. They do not want to waste time on things they cannot control.

What they do have complete control over is the story they present to the potential employer. I do not recommend they jump far away from their career path but to see what is close. Students can use our services after graduation and during the time it takes to find their place.

Observer: Does going to graduate school and having a master’s degree make a difference? How much of a difference does it make?

BS: Students should go to graduate school to study in a different field or enhance their skill sets. Going to graduate school just for the value of a master’s degree could complicate the situation because, for example, by the time students from the class of 2013 finish graduate school, the classes of 2014 and 2015 will have graduated as well and begin competing in the work place.

Students should instead ask themselves what skill sets and abilities do they want to use in their career. The value of a master’s degree is not the best motivation to go to graduate school.

Observer: How are Fordham alumni faring in the work place?

BS: For the Class of 2012, 83 percent of Fordham graduates are working full-time. Ten percent joined either the military, peace corps or the Jesuit volunteer corp. As of March, there are only 7 percent that are still looking for jobs.