Economics Department

Starting a Career

Students who want to begin a career directly out of Reed will find a challenging but potentially very rewarding job market. While Reed's undergraduate program is unsurpassed in developing learning skills and rigorous patterns of thought, it puts less emphasis on teaching specific job skills that can be applied from the first day on the job. Even without specific job training, many Reed graduates go on to achieve success in a wide variety of careers either with or without any graduate training.

Reed has an outstanding network of alumni, trustees, and friends who can open doors for you in almost any sector of the labor market. It is crucial to take advantage of personal and institutional contacts in order to find job openings for which they might be suited and to get their names into consideration for these openings. Jobs don't come looking for you; you must be aggressive in seeking out opportunities.

To mount an effective job search, it is important that you make contact with The Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) early in your junior year (if not before). The staff of CLBR are professionals in helping Reed students find careers that interest them and in putting them in contact with people who can assist their searches. They are very familiar with the Reed experience and with the job-search advantages and disadvantages that come with it. However, spring semester of the senior year is for too late to begin thinking about jobs, especially when the pressures of finishing the thesis are likely to be at their apex.

Finally, remember what economics tells us about job search. It is a two-way matching process that often takes considerable time and several false starts before a successful match is found. You are searching for attractive jobs; employers are searching for ideal candidates. Someone out there is searching for you with a job you would love, but you may not find each other right away.

Only a limited amount of information can be conveyed through résumés and interviews, so sometimes the first choice does not work out, either for the employer or the employee. However, the U.S. labor market is a highly mobile one and the first job is the most difficult to get. Most workers change jobs and many change occupations several times during the early part of their careers. So even if you do not find a job that will last a lifetime right after graduation, the job you do get may enable you to advance within that firm or to make contacts outside that firm to find something that suits you better.

Log into IRIS to find out what Reed economics majors go on to do by searching the alumni directory by major.

Visit The Center for Life Beyond Reed for general information and resources on graduate and professional school and other career exploration, internship, and job search tools.