Whenever I meet a college student, I ask two questions: What’s your major? And how will you make money with that degree?
Typically, students with majors in the sciences, engineering and technology easily provide an answer. But I get a lot of “Well, I’m not sure” from students who plan to get a degree in such areas as sociology, criminal justice, philosophy or English.
So I wasn’t surprised when a survey from PayScale, a salary information firm, found that employees with those majors are more likely to say they are underemployed, reports The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham.
But would it surprise you that people with degrees in business also feel that way?
“Liberal arts majors (I’m one of them!) are used to being the punch line in jokes about un- and underemployment,” Ingraham wrote. “But more unexpectedly, majorities of graduates with more ‘practical’ degrees in fields like business administration also said their jobs didn’t put their education, training or experience to work as much as they should.”
PayScale’s survey found that for some a bachelor’s degree in business isn’t enough to land a good-paying job.
As many as 22 million Americans can be counted as underemployed, according to PayScale, which defines being underemployed as having part-time work but wanting to work full-time or holding a job that doesn’t require or fully use your education, experience or training.
I recently spoke at Bowie State University, and I’ll tell you what I told staff and faculty. Anyone who has contact with college students ought to ask them how their major will translate into a job. And they should follow up with advice on one of the major factors to help prevent college graduates from being underemployed or unemployed — internships. I don’t mean any old job during the summer or their semesters in college. They should have at least three meaningful internships in the field they want to work in by the time they graduate.
We can all help these young folks by helping them connect their college studies to good employment.
Color of Money Question of the Week
In honor of Labor Day, what advice would you give a college student that would help in finding a job? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “College Degrees That Underpay” in the subject line. Please include your name, city and state.
Live online chat today
Join me today live at noon ET for a chat about money.
As I wrote in the review: “Those of us who work with couples fighting about financial issues know that it’s rarely just about the money. It’s often about something else that manifests in overspending, miserly behavior or micromanaging what your spouse spends.”
So today I’ll be talking to Weaver about marriage because maybe your money fights aren’t really about money. Perhaps you need to examine your relationship.
If you can’t participate in the chat live, you can send in your questions early. Either way, click here to leave a question or join the conversation.
Make your money work for you
Not sure how you are going to get where you want to be with your finances?
One way is to stay in study mode when it comes to your money. And to help lead you to stories that will help with your finances, The Washington Post has launched a new money and wealth section called Get There.
“We’ll hold robust conversations about saving, spending and investing,” wrote The Post’s personal finance reporter Jonnelle Marte. “We’ll figure out how the latest policy shifts affect your pocketbooks and explain it to you in plain English. And we will offer fare for investors of all stripes — from those struggling to balance the household budget to those managing ample portfolios.”
There will be chats with financial experts and stories about everyday people managing to accomplish their financial goals.
Check out the section, and let me know what you think. Are there things you want to see? Or share your own story.
Get out of the office
For last week’s Color of Money Question I asked: Are you a work martyr and, if so, why won’t you take time off?
Many workers — 40 percent — don’t take all of their vacation, according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, reported The Washington Post’s Brigid Schulte.
“I’ve never taken more time off than I was allocated, but I once had a supervisor who made requests for time off seem like a mortal sin,” wrote Lloyd Douglas from Greensboro, N.C. “So I resigned from that job and got another one. I know there are work martyrs, but there are also supervisors who make it difficult for employees to take time off, and so those employees can be inclined to take the path of least resistance, to the detriment of all involved.”
Tonya R. Williams, a physician from Orlando, wrote: “I don’t consider myself an intentional ‘work martyr,’ but as a physician in a busy practice I often feel guilty for taking time off. The complaints about wait times for an appointment when I am out make it even worse. I recently closed my office for two days due to the death of a loved one. Upon my return, a patient still complained despite being able to receive care in my absence. Her response helped me realize that I have to take care of myself because my sacrifices still aren’t enough. Taking a week of vacation in the very near future. The first in two years.”
Wrote Karen Mitz of Washington, D.C.: “I don’t understand why being too busy to take your vacation has become a ‘badge of honor’ in the modern work world. I know so many people who claim to work ‘all the time,’ are answering e-mails all night and weekend, who, if they take vacation, they are constantly responding to e-mails. I would say that across the board this ‘busyness’ is all self-induced, and it is really sad to me that many workers are missing out on their lives.”
Some readers wondered why people who love their work are made to feel guilty if they don’t want to take time off.
“Some of us are fortunate enough to love our work and be challenged by it,” wrote Rudy Mueller of Dallas. “ If we are enjoying it, we don’t need a break from it as someone who is bored by their work.”
Finally, many people pointed out vacation time is a luxury for some workers, who would take it if they had it.
“I am not a work martyr, but I am a working mom,” wrote Katy Wood of Baltimore, Ohio. “Some of my paid vacation time goes each year to sick days with the kids, but our family always tries to take at least a week, if not two, in the summer to explore someplace new. When money is tight we go close to home and when not we go as far away as possible.”
Alexis from Rockford, Ill., wrote: “On my last job I had to almost beg for my time off — more than two weeks’ vacation days accumulated — in order to take my mother for a visit to her childhood home and relatives in Virginia. It required multiple letters to the main office before it was finally granted. I was so glad I made the effort, however exasperating, to fight for those vacation days and take mother for one final visit to Virginia; she passed away in 2012.”
Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or email@example.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.