“Remember that the Center for Career & Professional Development is here for you & your career needs,” reads an email from the center sent to Lehigh students on Sept. 4, 2023.
This was one of several automated emails sent to the Lehigh community in preparation for the annual Career Expo, where students have the opportunity to connect with employers from a wide range of companies. This year, just under 150 companies are attending the expo on Sept. 21.
For some students, a subsequent email from the center was received Sept. 13, and its subject read, “Expo Employers Hiring Journalism Majors.”
Upon clicking the link as the email advises, a Handshake page appears where you can browse employers using different filters and categories.
For journalism majors, there are only three companies: the first in pharmaceuticals, the second in manufacturing and the third in teaching.
This may leave you wondering, is the Center for Career & Professional Development really here for me and my career needs?
We, The Brown and White Editorial Board, acknowledge that we are largely a group of journalism majors, and this issue is one of personal interest.
But this experience is shared by students of other forgotten majors. A search for English majors results in the same three companies as for the journalism majors. A search for women, gender, and sexuality studies results in four companies. And a search for counseling also results in four companies.
Yes, any student can attend, and perhaps benefit, from the Career Expo regardless of their major. Having even one potential company to talk to, or experimenting by connecting with companies of different fields, may be reason enough to attend.
But this is an issue of disparity in resources for students of different majors, programs and colleges at Lehigh. And it could be a reason some students feel forced into different industries than the work they truly wish to get into.
A search for companies hiring engineering majors on Handshake shows three pages of results and a search for finance shows two pages.
These are two of the most popular majors at Lehigh, so it’s understandable that the expo has the most to offer to them.
According to Lehigh’s Office of Institutional Data, in 2023, there are 1,390 engineering majors, 491 finance majors and only 73 journalism majors.
But even acknowledging that journalism students are part of a smaller, less popular program, we deserve more than just three companies that are hardly related to our area of study.
This imbalance raises an important question about the branding and marketing of the Career Expo: are the best interests of students of all disciplines being looked out for?
While we wait for a response on that, we can apply this example to a much larger discussion.
The construction of new facilities such as the Health, Science and Technology Building and the Business Innovation Building inspire a closer look at buildings like Drown Hall and Christmas-Saucon. When will their renovations come?
Journalism majors do have a place to call home within Coppee, and The Brown and White has its very own newsroom. This is not to be taken for granted — we’re grateful to be housed in a space with natural sunlight and spacious seating. A Keurig would be nice, but we’ll live.
Drown Hall, home to the English department, is in dire need of some refurbishing. Drown, Christmas-Saucon and Coppee are beautiful, historic and central to campus.
But in the grand scheme of things, they are seemingly neglected.
We recognize that these changes come with hefty price tags, as well as time and energy. But if the journalism department does not receive an equally hefty donation from a successful alum, can we trust that our new facilities will someday come? Same for the English department? Or the dozens of departments who have held classes in Christmas-Saucon?
This may be an issue of where the money is coming from, (wink, wink, alumni!) causing a divergence in the resources granted to students of different programs.
Lehigh has historically been renowned and recognized for its engineering and business schools, but there are thousands of students outside of these colleges that have diverse and deep contributions to the community and success of the university.
So what are we, the students of less populous or lesser-known programs at Lehigh, to do?
A push toward equity in resources is likely out of students’ hands. We’re willing to wait for a brand-new building or some renovations. But in the meantime, we’ll prepare for the next Career Expo and hope that there will be at least one company attending that we could talk to next year.