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Career Services Follow Up Survey - Class of 2017 Executive Summary

 

 …preparing students for a lifetime of meaningful, productive work and engagement in an ever-changing world.

 

The sentiment conveyed in the partial statement above is often cited by education leaders, especially those advocating for the liberal arts and sciences. They point to studies that show the value of this type of education over a span of many years, often highlighting business and civic leaders with a liberal arts background along with others who help to shape a culture that is rich in diversity, creativity, productivity and innovation. It’s a sentiment and belief that we embrace at St. Lawrence University: the liberal arts as practical preparation for a lifetime of purposeful engagement. This study of the Class of 2017 features the first destination outcomes of those St. Lawrence graduates beginning their careers in a diverse and dynamic world.

 

Continuing a record of high achievement by classes graduating in the past several years, nearly 97 percent of the Class of 2017 are either working or engaged in further education. The annual survey conducted by the offices of Career Services and Institutional Research 6 to 10 months after Commencement captures not only early outcomes of the new alumni but also provides details on top industries in which they have landed, median and mean salaries, job functions, work satisfaction and continued education pursuits. The 2017 graduates also reported on the importance of various undergraduate activities and experiences in shaping their current situation: (e.g., co-curricular activities, internships, interactions with faculty and alumni and campus resources). The survey includes responses of 415 members of the class (students who graduated in May 2017 and August 2017) for an overall response rate of 73.2 percent, still above the 65 percent target and guideline set by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but down from 77 and 79 percent rates in the previous two years.

 

In addition to the 97 percent career outcomes rate cited above, I highlight other findings from the survey here:

 

Graduates in full-time employment who identify their type of work as “temporary/contract work assignment” continue to trend upward: 11 percent for the Class of 2017, 9 percent for the Class of 2016, 7 percent for the Class of 2015. Popular media have reported extensively on the growing “gig economy,” and our graduates’ reports seem to reflect that shift, although most full-time employment among survey respondents would be considered traditional, along with 4 percent who identify as “entrepreneurs,” and another 5 percent in paid, post-baccalaureate internships or fellowships.

 

Median salaries remained the same ($40,500) as the previous year, while the mean salary increased ($41,524) for those working full-time. Fewer students reported salaries of $35,000 or below than in previous years.

 

Internship participation as an undergraduate was up to 69.1 percent, and respondents report an increase in the percentage of internships that were paid. This is likely a reflection of our commitment to grow our Internship Fellowship program through the generosity of many donors and a growing endowment to help offset the cost of living and travel/transportation expenses incurred during students’ summer internship experiences.

 

More students of the Class of 2017 got introduced to Career Services in their First Year compared to previous years (51 percent for Class of 2017, 44 percent for Class of 2016, 47 percent for Class of 2015, 31 percent for Class of 2014), an indicator of our “early and often” strategy and our growing partnerships with the First Year Program faculty.

 

Acceptance rates to graduate and professional school remained strong and steady at about 95 percent, with impressive numbers in medicine and law, professional programs that are often difficult to attain in the year immediately after earning a baccalaureate degree, as well as a variety of master’s programs. Nearly 20 percent of the class is currently enrolled in continued education, most of whom are in graduate or professional school programs.

 

Top industries employing this cohort of graduates are education, finance/banking, technology, government/public administration and health care. Top job functions within these industries include teaching/ coaching/training, sales, financial services, research/analysis, administration/management and account management/planning.

 

Like last year, “internships/previous employment” was the most influential category selected in the survey for help in landing their current employment, with the St. Lawrence alumni network, SLU faculty and staff, current students and their families and their own extended network of connections also rated as especially influential.

 

Nearly one third of the respondents with full-time work reported having found their employment prior to graduation, with 13 percent within a month of Commencement, 27 percent securing work 2 to 3 months after graduation, 19 percent between 4 and 5 months after and the remaining 8 percent 6 or more months after graduating.

 

Most of the Class of 2017 is either generally or very satisfied with their current work (83 percent); 81 percent report that their work is directly or somewhat related to their desired career path; and 86 percent indicate their current position is one that would typically be held by someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

Open-ended comments from the survey that highlight very positive experiences as well as suggestions on areas for improvement are especially useful as we plan and deliver programs and services to advance students’ success. As in past years, several members of the Class of 2017 perceived a lack of resources for students in the sciences and felt that science fields are not as well represented in Career Services’ programs and opportunities compared to other fields. Career Services has taken steps in recent years to highlight re- search and experiential opportunities in the sciences as well as made efforts to integrate more fully the various fields in which people work, often featuring science people in its programs. We hope that over time such efforts will shift that perception, and we will continue to imagine ways to highlight the many paths available to students in those disciplines. On the positive side, many recent graduates commented that the alumni network was especially helpful as they navigated their transition from college, as were faculty/advisor connections and the staff of Career Services.

 

The information from the Class of 2017 survey is shared with the St. Lawrence community including University Communications, Admissions, academic departments and University Advancement to assist them in accomplishing their work objectives, and it is shared with the general public through prominent placement on the University’s web site and in other media. The results also serve as a source of pride as we celebrate our graduates' successes.

 

I wish to express my special gratitude to both Christine Zimmerman and Jasmine Patraw of Institutional Research, Ann Pedersen and Michelle Gould, Career Services, and all of the 2017-18 Career Services Interns, under the supervision of Beth Larrabee, for their help with the survey and this report.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Ron Albertson

Director of Career Services

July 2018

 

See the Full Report.

See the 5 year academic division and department Outcome Profile summaries.

CATEGORY

RESPONDENTS

 PERCENTAGES

CAREERS    
Employed Full-Time 264 63.9%  
Employed FT Volunteer 6 1.5%  
Employed FT, Continued Ed PT 3 0.7%  
Employed FT, Volunteer, Continued Ed PT 0 0.0%
Total Employed Full-Time 273 66.1%
       
Employed PT 34 8.2%  
Employed PT, Continued Ed PT 5 1.2%  
Total Employed Part-Time 39 9.4%  
       
Internships or research experience, unpaid 6 1.5%  
Total Primarily Pursuing a Career 318 77.0%  
     
POSTBACCALAUREATE EDUCATION    
Continued Ed FT 46 11.1%  
Continued Ed FT, Volunteer PT 4 1.0%  
Continued Ed FT, Employed FT 4 1.0%  
Continued Ed FT, Employed PT 26 6.3%  
Continued Ed PT 1 0.2%  
Total Primarily Pursuing Education 81 19.6%  
     
TRANSITION    
 Pursuing Employment or Continued Ed 14  3.4%   
     
SUMMARY    
Final Outcome Rate* 399/413  96.6%  
  Total Reporting Rate: 415/567  73.2% 

*Data analysis excludes 2 new graduates who are neither pursuing a job nor continued education at the time of the survey.