Lost in Transition: College Resources and the Unequal Early-Career Trajectories of Arts Alumni

Nathan Martin, Alexandre Frenette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This article considers how college resources (academic abilities, social engagement, and career skills) affect the likelihood of a successful post-graduation job search. Using survey data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (N = 16,659 alumni who graduated between 1976 and 2015), we find that arts graduates are increasingly likely to be lost in transition. Over recent decades, the likelihood of experiencing a prolonged job search after graduation or initial employment in an unrelated field has increased. Yet, we find that higher levels of social engagement and career skills, but not academic abilities gained through traditional instruction, are predictive of labor market success. Female and non-White alumni report lower levels of college resources, longer initial job searches, and are more likely to find work in an unrelated field. Furthermore, gender moderates the relationship between career skills and job search length such that career skill development is associated with stronger gains for men than for women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1509
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • artistic careers
  • job search
  • postsecondary education
  • precarious work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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