Whether caught in the frenzy of on-campus recruiting or the whirlwind of graduate school and fellowship deadlines, many seniors this fall are beginning to feel the pressures of planning life after graduation and making career choices. According to the Office of Career Services, the most popular employment sector for students entering the workforce following graduation is financial services—over 20 percent of seniors accept jobs in finance.
Perhaps surprisingly, the second most popular sector is education, at 16 percent, according to the most recent data from OCS. But as programs in education, such as Teach for America and the College’s own Undergraduate Teacher Education Program (UTEP), gain popularity on campus, seniors who choose teaching—and in particular teaching in Cambridge and Boston area schools—are not as few and far between.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
Native Bostonian Emily L. Melton ’09 jumped straight into the teaching world after graduation. Melton, now teaching history at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, said she had always known she wanted to pursue a career in teaching.
Melton’s placement in a Boston-area school is part of the Boston Residency Program (BTR), a post-graduate program that enrolls students in an accelerated one-year masters program and a year of co-teaching, in addition to a three-year commitment to teaching within the Boston public school system.
Melton said that as an undergraduate, she sometimes felt “discouraged” from pursuing this interest at Harvard.
“I felt that there was a lack of civil duty; you don’t find a lot of people that go into public service,” she said.
Pia P. Dandiya ’09, a teacher at Garfield Middle School Revere as part of Teach For America’s Boston corps, said that choosing a more common path in finance was tempting.
“I think that there is an imbalance of Harvard students going into jobs that pay well, rather than going into jobs that serve less fortunate communities,” she said.
Dandiya said that though she had always been considering finance and consulting careers, she was more and more enticed by TFA’s mission.
“By the end of my junior year, I was trying to be interested in finance and consulting, but the more I found out about Teach for America, the more I was wrapped,” she said.
For Melton, public service felt like both a privilege and an obligation.
“I believe it is important for those who have had the good fortune of an excellent education to give back to society,” she said.
TEACHING THE TEACHERS
Teaching and teacher training programs such as BTR have in recent years risen in popularity among undergraduates in part due to extensive recruiting among students with an interest in public service.