This article is probably the worst thing Romenesko could have delivered to my Google Reader feed today after I experienced a mild panic-attack (oxymoron?) last night while trying to figure out where I want to apply for internships for next summer.
Fair warning: if you are a journalism major wishing to retain your optimism, stop reading. Right now.
Here are some uplifting tidbits from both the article (published by the University of Georgia, whose affiliates conducted the annual survey of journalism/communications grads) and the survey report itself:
“Graduates of the nation’s journalism and mass communication programs in the spring of 2009 confronted a job market unlike any that graduates have encountered in the nearly 25 years for which comparable data are available.”
“Comments from the graduates to the 2009 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates reflected a real sense of frustration and desperation. One student said that nothing he had done at the university prepared him ‘to deal with this horrible economy.’ His advice to 2010 students not yet graduated was direct: ‘Stay in school forever. It all goes down hill from here.’”
“One student said quite simply: ‘I have an $80,000 piece of paper that isn’t worth s*** in the real world.’ About one in three of the students said they regretted their career choice.”
More statistics that will make any journalism/comms major cringe, courtesy of the 2009 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates:
• The percentage of spring journalism and mass communication bachelor’s degree recipients who reported having at least one job offer when they completed their studies dropped in 2009 by nearly 10 percentage points compared to a year earlier.
• Bachelor’s degree recipients who were members of racial or ethnic minorities had a particularly difficult time in the job market in 2009. The gap between the level of employment of non-minority and minority graduates in 2009 is the largest ever recorded in the graduate survey.
• Four in 10 of the graduates said there were specific skills they wish they had acquired as a part of their studies that they had not acquired. Technological skills were dominant among those missed.
On the bright side, graduates who specialized in news editing and/or print journalism had a full-time employment rate that was at about the average for all graduates who took the survey in 2008. In 2009, they were above-average at 58.7%. Also, the survey found that there is some evidence the job market is improving — of the graduates who returned the survey in November, only 46.5% were employed full-time, but that figure rose to 62.8% for the participants who returned the survey in May. Of course, this could be attributed to the graduates having an additional six months to find a full-time job, but it’s still encouraging (if only slightly).
With that said, only 25.9% of bachelor’s degree recipients with an emphasis in news-editorial actually managed to land jobs in the newspaper business, which was up from 22.9% in 2008 but down from 35.5% in 2007. That figure isn’t too bad, but of those degree-holding news majors, 14.9% were unemployed (no full-time or part-time job) in 2009 and 23.9% ended up in non-communications jobs. Not exactly ideal.
What also stood out to me on the survey was that four in 10 participants (of 2,500 total) said they wish they had acquired more technological skills during their time in college. I guess it’s time to enroll in some video/multimedia classes… Unfortunately for me, Ohio University makes it fairly difficult for non-broadcast majors to get into those.
Anyway, although this entire post has been pretty pessimistic and bitter, I’m going to try and end it on a positive note. A friend of mine who had to listen to me panic last night about the possibility of failing at journalism said that every minute I spend worrying about it is a minute I waste by not doing something proactive. Even though I don’t think it’s realistic for a college student to not feel stressed out about the future, I have to admit that there’s some validity to that argument. Confidence is key in a job market like this, because if you can’t even convince yourself that you’re worth hiring, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince a possible employer.