Post-graduate employment, from New York City to Colombia

A look into where students work after graduation, how the Career Center facilitates job opportunities

After graduation, University students’ jobs take them everywhere from New York City to Colombia. The Career Center surveys the outgoing class each year to determine which states and countries employ the most University students. This year, for the first time, the Career Center has adopted a new data management system to give students real-time job search information. The Career Center is also working to bring a larger variety of employers to the University, offering students more options for job locations.

Post-graduate jobs by geographic location

The top three states of employment for University graduates for the class of 2014 were Virginia, Washington, D.C. and New York, according to the Career Center’s First Destinations Report. The Career Center will release post-graduation employment data for the class of 2015 this summer.

David Lapinski, director of Employer Relations at the Career Center, said New York and California are popular locations for post-graduation employment, in addition to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“There’s an uptick and rebound in New York that’s contributed to an upbuilding in financial services, and we have seen an increase in [the] number of students going to California, in particular to Silicon Valley,” Lapinski said.

For some alumni, location took a backseat to the type of work and the opportunities available. An internship in asset management helped Commerce alumnus Haider Arshad learn he wanted to go into investment banking.

“Location mattered very little,” Arshad said. “I knew I wanted to do investment banking. I was looking for the best opportunity. I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to learn as much as I could.”

Commerce alumna Nancy Park worked for Deloitte Consulting Group in McLean, Va., a popular location for post-graduate jobs right after leaving the University.

“Location mattered very little when deciding where to work because of the nature of consulting — you travel a lot,” Park said.

College alumna Natalia Violand, who majored in Foreign Affairs, prioritized purpose over location when accepting her Teach For America assignment in Massachusetts.

“To be honest [location] didn’t really factor into my decisions,” Violand said. “I went into Teach for America taking on a mission, knowing I was committing to something bigger than where I was going to be.”

Location was a bigger factor for College and Batten alumnus Sheridan Fuller, a presidential management fellow who works with the Secretary of Health in D.C. Fuller knew he needed to be in a larger city for a career in public service.

“I did have an interest in coming to Washington, D.C., not because of the city, but because of the industry, where the bulk of the action happens at the federal level,” Fuller said.

Working abroad

While most University students end up working in Virginia, D.C. or New York, some find employment abroad, particularly with the Peace Corps. Classified as a “medium-sized” school, the University is the top fifth supplier of volunteers for the Peace Corps. While the majority of positions within the Peace Corps are in the education category, the organization welcomes volunteers from all majors and schools.

“About 80 percent of U.Va. students do community service on their own through their time at the University… so there’s a real high level of commitment to service and people pursuing the opportunity to give back,” Peace Corps recruiter Anna Sullivan said.

After living in Charlottesville for four years, some students desire a drastic change in environment.

“The students that I see want an experience that’s really going to challenge them and give them the chance to make a difference, and a lot of people want an international experience,” Sullivan said. “It really opens up more opportunities for you once you lived and worked in another culture.”

Other students find jobs in the United States before deciding to work abroad, like Park, who traveled to Colombia to teach English after three years at Deloitte.

“I wanted to know what it was like to get up every morning and know what it felt like to do something I was genuinely passionate about,” Park said. “I’d never had a chance to study abroad at U.Va. and [I] wanted that experience.”

The Career Center’s new efforts

Tracking where graduates work when they leave the University is part of the Career Center’s mission to provide students with resources necessary to find opportunities in their desired industries or locations.

The University Student Outcome Activity Report is a new system of data collection being implemented for the class of 2016. A departure from past efforts to analyze data concerning post-graduation opportunities, SOAR collects and displays data in real-time to students, parents, employers, faculty and media outlets. This method of collection allows students to access data faster than they could with past efforts, which were more time consuming.

Although geared mainly toward current graduates, SOAR allows any student to enter what types of internships or employment opportunities they have had, their industry and location preference, as well as with whether or not they are still searching for employment.

“We direct students to go ahead and not be afraid to put what’s out there … even if you’re still seeking a job, that data helps us as an office to determine where we need to put our support,” Lapinski said. “If students wait until May or June, it stops us from being able to help them as much.”

With these aggregated data, SOAR allows users to see timelines of the job-search process for graduates in the same major or industry. This gives students easier access to information on when to apply for jobs and what types of opportunities their peers are finding.

The Career Center’s first-ever Start-Up Career Fair, held Feb. 2, is another way the center has increasingly responded to student needs. Comprised of local startups and fast-growing companies, the fair aimed to expose students to opportunities in the startup sector of the economy. Lapinski said the Career Center plans to expand the fair’s success in future years by reaching out to more employers in Silicon Valley.

This might be a challenge, as California tech companies are concerned non-local students present risky ventures since they might become homesick after a year and leave the company, Lapinski said.

“Our trend data shows that [this is wrong]; students go out there and stay out there,” Lapinski said.

The truth about post-graduation job shortage

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment for recent college graduates has decreased since the 2008 recession, employment opportunities abound for University graduates.

In a recent roundtable concerning the Virginia economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said there are 30,000 vacant jobs in Northern Virginia alone. Each day these positions are unfilled equals $30,000,000 in lost tax revenue for the state. However, not all of these jobs are entry-level positions appropriate for recent graduates.

Since the state of Virginia covers many education costs not covered by college tuition, if too many students leave Virginia for employment, the state will develop a deficit, Lapinski said. States use their economic development authority to partner with universities and ensure there is enough talent to fill positions within the state.

“We have a mission as a state institution to help our state, but we want to partner with students too so that we find opportunities for them to go abroad or to San Francisco, for example,” Lapinski said.

Lapinski recently visited Florida, a state working to draw students to an abundance of new jobs. The Florida High Tech Corridor, which has become a location of burgeoning growth for start-ups and fast-growing companies, hosted a showcase last week and invited 50 top schools. Lapinski represented the University.

The showcase aimed to connect university representatives with Florida tech companies who are hiring recent graduates. Since Florida universities aren’t producing enough students to fill positions at new companies, they will not be able to create or maintain a strong human capital base, Lapinski said.

“We are bringing the word back to students to say, ‘Hey, don’t just look at Deloitte in Northern Virginia,’” Lapinski said. “Look at Orlando, where it’s 80 degrees and there’s no state income or property taxes.”

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