Many of us are attending virtual graduations this spring, celebrating high school and college students who are achieving a significant milestone in a less-than-traditional way. What better time to reflect on our own Class of 1974 graduation and the job market into which we entered in summer 1974?
As you can see from the front page of the 1974 graduation issue of The Cornell Daily Sun, our class had 2,475 graduates on Monday, June 3, 1974. In keeping with longstanding Cornell tradition, our commencement had no guest speaker or honorary degrees. Cornell President Dale Corson delivered our commencement address—all Cornell presidents have done the same. The topic of President Corson’s address was Morality. Does anyone remember that talk?!?
We gathered on the Arts Quad on that long-ago spring day and paraded past the Olin Library steps where faculty and administrators were gathered. We marched up to Barton Hall for the graduation ceremony. It was quite warm inside Barton and the crowd was in the thousands. We were the last class to graduate in Barton Hall—since 1975, all Cornell graduation ceremonies have been held outdoors, rain or shine, in Schoellkopf Stadium
The Sun of May 31, 1974 reflects on the job market into which we graduated. “Most of those who will graduate plan to continue their schooling, but many say they hope to start their careers. Among the more unusual jobs taken by seniors in this year’s class include a ranch hand in Wyoming, a zookeeper in Utica, and a co-manager of a Southern tobacco farm. The jobs range from the banal to the extraordinary and include bank teller, toolmaker, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, teacher, salesperson, and employment in laboratories, farming, the military and the Peace Corps.” The article also notes that Engineering grads have plenty of jobs to choose from and demand is booming. The Cornell Career Center assistant director said he was optimistic about liberal arts graduates being persistent and ultimately finding jobs.
Here’s to celebrating all graduates—from 2020 and from 1974!