The following post was originally posted on the YNOT blog which I am now re posting here.
I have been coming to Windsor all my life, both of my parents were born and raised here, my extended family is here and in 2010 I moved here to complete a masters’ degree in Political Science at the University of Windsor. While working on this degree, I met the woman to whom I soon shall be related by marriage who is currently working on her PhD in Neuroscience who is also from the region.
The University is a great tool to attract talent to the Windsor Essex region but after leaving that warm embracing cocoon that is academia the world around you in the City of Windsor is a scary place. With two master degrees under my belt, I have applied for dozens of jobs in the region barely getting a call back, let alone an interview. I have made numerous offers to volunteer for organizations that work in my field, but beyond new scattered hours and projects even volunteering has been a challenge.
The conclusion that I have reached is that a social science degree (undergraduate or graduate) is undervalued in this region. Unless you get really lucky or know someone who can place you in a position the job market isn’t out friend. For a few fortunate individuals that are lucky enough to get internships from the University to get your foot in the door and practical experience, but for those who don’t find numerous industries difficult to break into. We have all heard that gone are the days of getting a degree will mean getting a job, in Windsor this is particularly true. Simply put there aren’t enough jobs in the social science field to support the number of new students passing through this area.
Every year the University graduates hundreds of students with social science or humanities degrees; dozens more return to the region after getting their education elsewhere. Unfortunately with these degrees, in the eyes of employers the graduates lack many practical jobs skills beyond being able to research, write an essay and a few niche expertise that are field specific. What results is a “Hunger Games” style interview process where dozens of applications battle over a handful of jobs. Those not lucky enough to succeed in this process are left with only a few options. In the meantime they will likely have to work somewhere to make ends meet, as the 6 month grace period for student loans expires surprisingly fast and the government or banks don’t like you to be late on your monthly payments.
So where does this bring young social science and humanities graduates in Windsor-Essex? An obvious choice is going back to school and getting a graduate level degree and hopefully acquiring the practical skills that make them more employable. Unfortunately, this will add to their debt levels and make the financial pressure of finding a job quickly after graduation all the more important. Of course volunteering is an excellent option to network and gain experience, but you may not be able to find volunteer opportunities in your field of choice. Beyond volunteering your time it is important to maintain your interest and skills in your field of study. Blogging, reading journals and reports, writing academic articles are all options to keep your skills sharp and updated on the comings and goings in the your field.
The most important thing that I can offer to young social scientists is to be patience and persistence. We have lots to offer to our community, we are adaptable and capable of solving the problems that can impact the lives of people around us. Just because potential employers may find our practical skills lacking is their loss not ours. For those who stay in the Windsor Essex area, good things eventually come to those who work hardest and want to be successful most.