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Working In An Industry Unrelated To Their University Degree: A Latin American Reality

The decision of what to study at university is crucial.

Young Latin Americans face one of their biggest struggles when they turn 17 or 18: deciding what they will study at university.

Culturally, Latin Americans believe success depends on this choice, but there are several reasons why they may end up working in an industry not related to what they studied.

“I studied pedagogy because it was a career classified as highly important, not only in the education sector but also to become an entrepreneur,” said Mariana Manzano, a graduate of the Universidad Veracruzana. “I never worked as a pedagogue, as I dedicated myself to my husband’s business, which has to do with computer systems.”

Upon graduating from University, many young people find themselves in a difficult job market. (Brett Jordan/Unsplash)

According to a report by A3O Group, a company dedicated to the recruitment and selection of personnel, until 2018, two out of three university graduates dedicated themselves to jobs that had nothing to do with the fields they studied.

Although the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness B.C. emphasizes that university studies are essential to increase the chance of professional success, many graduates face an extremely competitive job market with few opportunities.

“I did seek job opportunities in private schools,” said Manzano. “I went to several schools and even sought employment for companies that had nothing to do with my career. Schools prefer someone who has a bachelor’s in education or a psychologist rather than a pedagogue.”

Although people must dedicate themselves to something they love, as Manzano did, the economic factor always plays an important role. Teenagers have to consider, before entering a university, the job market.

“It is important that young people have appropriate counseling,” said Édgar García, a psychologist from the Universidad Cristobal Colón. “On the one hand, they must know to which industry they want to go into. On the other hand, the vocational tests can help them know their aptitudes.”

Latin American teenagers today have limited work opportunities. It is important that they choose to study not only something they enjoy, but also something that may help them earn an income. (Firmbee/Unsplash) 

According to the specialist, having professional support to make this critical decision is crucial for teenagers since it helps decrease university dropouts.

“I have helped several teens in this specific area, brought in by their parents,” said García. “I applied different tests to them, such as psychometric tests. This way, we can determine their vocational profile and find any connection with their career choice.”

Over time, Manzano has admitted that her bachelor’s degree in pedagogy has given her very few job and financial opportunities. Even so, she does not regret having it, as she managed to fulfill her teenage dream.

“It was both difficult and sad, as I had to develop myself professionally in an industry that had nothing to do with my degree, although I feel content with what I have done and the money I earn. Sadly, I have seen many classmates, mainly women, that had the same happen to them: having to work outside our industry. We must demand universities to stop offering career options if they are in decline,” she said.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Kristen Butler.)

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