Survey: More UA grads report career success

03/17/2016

More UA students landed full-time jobs in their chosen fields or continued their education last spring versus the same period in 2014.

The trend should continue because of UA’s expanded emphasis on providing all undergraduate students with “experiential learning” opportunities: Internships, co-ops, clinicals, practicums, student teaching and field experiences. Earlier this month, UA launched its EXL Center (or Experiential Learning Center for Entrepreneurship & Civic Engagement) to connect more students with course-related, out-of-classroom experiences.

Students who have such experiences tend to have an easier time getting jobs, says Laura Carey, director of career services. “What’s more,” she adds, “we know from our survey of graduates that those with such experiences earn about $3,500 more in starting salary than those without.”

UA makes an exhaustive effort annually to check in with recent graduates to learn about career progress. This year, 78 percent of spring 2015 graduates said within six months of graduating they had a full-time job related to their majors or chosen fields, or were continuing their education. That’s up from 75 percent a year ago.

Several factors could be leading to the increase, Carey says. The improved economy is helping, as is Career Services’ sustained effort to let students know that on average, 30 to 50 new jobs and internships are added daily to the department’s jobs database, available for free to all students and alumni.

Learning beyond the classroom

The survey of spring 2015 graduates with bachelor’s degrees also revealed that 81 percent had participated in experiential learning, an increase of three percentage points over 2014.

Pushing that number higher is the College of Engineering’s model co-op program. Upperclassmen typically alternate between a semester on the job and a semester in the classroom. After graduating, most student engineers hire into their co-op company.

Co-op opportunities for engineers and many other students in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) are increasing because of a new state grant that supports student salaries and because companies understand that many of their senior professionals are approaching retirement.

In 2011, for instance, 305 engineering students had co-ops with 156 companies. In 2015, 506 students had co-ops with 241 companies.

“A co-op is a relatively inexpensive way for a company to develop future engineers,” says Deanna Dunn, director of co-op education and placement in the College of Engineering. “Students, of course, benefit as well. They earn money for tuition and they develop marketable skills that will pay off throughout their careers. And because they’re on site 40 hours a week, they become fully immersed on project teams and in major initiatives.”


CAREER OUTCOMES, 2014 VS. 2015

Career outcomes Spring 2014 Spring 2015
Placement (conservative placement, all undergraduate degrees) 75% 78%
Experiential learning participation (bachelor’s degrees) 78% 81%
Average starting salary with experiential learning (bachelor’s degrees) $47,617 $48,639
Average starting salary without experiential learning (bachelor’s degree) $41,629 $45,146
Survey knowledge rate (response rate) 95% 95%

Conservative placement data includes: Any graduate employed full time in their chosen field within six months of graduating, employed full time in a position that requires a degree or continuing their education (i.e., graduate school). Experiential learning includes internships, practicums, assistantships, student teaching, undergraduate research, field experiences, clinicals, volunteer work related to major and study abroad.


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Career Services at The University of Akron

Keith Bolin from Verizon, right, speaks with student Thomas Williams during “Employer Office Hours” at UA's Career Services office. Verizon is one of many companies in the program, which allows students to participate in mock interviews and résumé reviews conducted by actual employers. Such sessions sometimes result in jobs or internships.