A Look at Non-Traditional Students & Careers

October 30, 2013

Christie Crawford

In 2012, Marie Thomas graduated from FM with a 3.97 grade-point average, earning her Associate of Science in Business Administration.  She never let her gender choose her career path.  Marie started her studies at FM in a more traditional field for women, Early Childhood Education.  After just one semester, she realized that Early Childhood Education was not her passion and began exploring the Business Administration field.  Marie had joined the Student Government Association (SGA) at FM and some of her responsibilities opened the door to explore a business major.  She had always excelled in mathematics and she found her first college accounting course to be challenging yet exciting.

Today, Marie is in her senior year at Siena College, majoring in Accounting.  She begins a paid internship at a tax firm later this month.  After graduating from Siena next spring, Marie plans to pursue her Master’s degree in Accounting right away.    “Without the amazing instructors and staff at FM I may not have had the ability to experience this kind of success today,” says Marie.

More and more the modern student is exploring what some consider “non-traditional” careers based on gender stereotypes.  They are choosing careers based more on interests, abilities, and employment outlook and not limiting their options.  The Department of Labor defines a non-traditional career as one where more than 75% of the workforce is the opposite gender – or conversely where more than 25% is of one specific gender.  For women, many non-traditional career paths fall into a few broad categories of jobs:  labor-intensive, scientific/technical, supervisory, and as in Marie’s situation, business administration and accounting fields.  For men, non-traditional often involves careers in education, health care, and service-related jobs, to name a few.

Also according to the Department of Labor, non-traditional jobs are specifically attractive to women because they generally offer higher entry-level wages and a career ladder with pay between $20 and $30 per hour.  Some non-traditional jobs for women include architects, computer programmers, computer software and hardware engineers, detectives, chefs, electrical engineers, computer and office machine repairers, construction and building inspectors, automotive technicians, truck drivers, and police officers.

At FM, we strongly encourage students to open their minds and not to limit their career options based on gender stereotypes.  Retention Coordinator JeanMarie Reinke believes students must follow their passions for a career and base choices on interest and abilities in order to be successful.  “When a student begins college, there is so much excitement. They experience new freedom, friends, and surroundings.  They feel the pride of pursuing a higher education and anticipate the challenges of new classes.  Usually, the entire experience is motivating.  Then, as they move into a new routine, and time passes, some of that motivation can begin to dwindle. Some classes may not cover material that they find mentally stimulating.  But when a student pursues a major that they are truly interested in, it is much easier for them to sustain motivation and focus and for a college to retain the student,” she states.

No one wants to be stuck in a career path that doesn’t bring them joy and satisfaction. Doing what you love, regardless of the gender a career typically attracts, is a key factor in college, career, and overall job satisfaction.

Christie Crawford is Outreach & Support Representative at FM.

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