Keene State College students explored both the pros and cons of education following a bachelor’s degree in the social science fields on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 as they discussed career paths with a panel in the Mountain View Room of the L.P. Young Student Center. The panel of five, hosted by the Political Science Club and Academic Career Advising Center, came to a split decision about the importance of further education.
“Master’s degrees are kind of like the new bachelor’s degrees,” Tyler Deaton, a campaign manager and political consultant, said.
He and KSC alum of the class of 1984 David Stack, the Bow, N.H. town manager, said that getting higher education puts the extra edge on a resume. They said that although neither of them began with more than a bachelor’s degree, it certainly makes a resume stand out when hiring. However, another had a slightly different philosophy.
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“Getting a master’s just to get one isn’t really that helpful,” Susy Thielen, coordinator for “Heading for Home,” said.
She noted the importance of getting a master’s degree in something relevant to one’s career. She said that unless one knows what they want to do, it’s more advisable to wait.
Bill Bilodeau, copy desk chief and business editor of The Keene Sentinel, explained that journalism is a completely different ball game altogether. He said that an emerging journalist, regardless of credentials, isn’t going to begin at a managerial level.
“Journalism is one of those funny things that it relies enough on talent that you can kind of talk your way in, or write your way in,” Bilodeau said.
But ultimately, they all agreed on essential skills necessary for any job. They stressed the importance of being able to write well, as well as having good personal, web-based, and computer skills. They also said good judgment, personal skills, and connections make a difference when applying for a job. Finally, they said that intelligence is key. Although many qualities can be taught, intelligence cannot.
“You can’t teach brains,” Bilodeau said.
Each of the panelists was given talking points prior to the event. They each took a turn speaking about their career stemming out of social sciences.
Deaton said using a social science degree in politics really leads to four types of work: law school, a job at a think tank, working in government, or working on campaigns. Deaton spoke about his work campaigning and said that it is hit or miss depending on the personality of the individual, but that it includes low pay and long, hard days. He said while working on a campaign is difficult and emotionally tolling, it allows one to travel, but at no small cost.
“Be willing to take some risks and be open to really challenging yourself in what you believe in,” Deaton said.
Thielen described many jobs, some volunteer and some paid, that she’s held. She said although she was originally a speech pathologist, she and her husband decided they wanted to stay in Keene, so she’s held multiple jobs of a wide variety.
“You have to build your networks if you’re going to stay somewhere,” Thielen said.
Stack spoke about his job as Bow’s town manager. He said that while many who applied for the same job were well-qualified, he had the enthusiasm and willingness to learn, received the job, and has remained in the position for 16 years.
“If you guys are interested in trying to break in, N.H. is a great place to do that,” Stack said, explaining that N.H.’s local government system allows for younger people to get jobs and develop skills more easily.
Bilodeau explained how working for a newspaper takes a different type of work. He explained the excitement in being able to get the story and talked about the benefits of being able to meet important people, noting his interview with President Obama on the campaign trail.
“You really get a different sense from someone when you’re sitting two feet from someone listening to them explain their position,” Bilodeau said.
He said experience is the most important part of going into journalism, and encouraged everyone considering it to write and find internships. He also said that it’s a job that you can move in and out of, and that it fits well with many other majors. Most importantly, he said taking time in college to try new things, like writing for a newspaper, are essential to finding the right career.
“That’s the great thing about college; it’s expensive, but it gives you time to think about what you want to do,” Bilodeau said.
Allie Bedell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org