Oct. 23, 2003
Vol. 23 No. 3

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    Fourth-year students get ahead of career search using survey information Class of 2003 provided

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    This year’s fourth-years are getting a head start on their job search thanks to the generosity of last year’s fourth years.

    A voluntary survey, conducted last May, asked and answered important questions about the Class of 2003’s post-Chicago plans. Bill Michel, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Associate Dean of the College, presented the results of the first-ever fourth-year survey to the class of 2004, during the first week of classes this fall.

    Members of the Class of 2003 provided the following information about their future plans: Where were they going? (34.8 percent had full-time jobs, 22 percent were going to graduate or professional school, and 43.8 percent, as of mid-May, answered: “don’t know”); Are fourth-years going where they want to go? (91 percent of students pursuing graduate work reported getting into their top-choice school); What kind of jobs are they getting? (18 percent went into financial services, 15 percent went into teaching, 12 percent into research); Where were they going geographically? (nearly 40 percent planned to stay in Chicago, with New York City the runner-up as the most popular destination); How much were they going to get paid? (47 percent are making over $20,000 a year, 17 percent are making more than $50,000).

    “We wanted to give students a realistic sense of what to expect,” Michel said.

    The survey, which included extensive demographic and interest information, also provided detailed information on the job-searching process of last year’s seniors. The survey, for instance, revealed how long the average job search took and what job-searching techniques were the most effective for students. Among students with full-time jobs, personal connections, campus contacts and previous internships proved the most effective.

    The reason the survey results were released during the first week of classes, said Liz Michaels, Director of CAPS (Career & Placement Services), is to help fourth-years make informed decisions about how to best take advantage of their final year.

    The survey data also was extremely valuable to administrators. “It’s empowering to have real data for us, both to respond to student needs,” said Michel, “and to validate and invalidate assumptions about students’ choices after they graduate.”

    A collaborative effort of numerous campus organizations, the voluntary survey had a nearly 95 percent participation rate. “Our sample is representative of the Class of 2003, and we can speak with certainty about the immediate plans of those graduates,” said Michel. Diana Jergovic, Director of Operations and Planning in the Office of the Vice President for Research, directed the fourth-year survey. Students were asked to participate in mid-May, just as they were getting their graduation tickets.

    The presentation of the data was only one step in “Looking Back, Looking Forward.” During the first week of classes, a series of workshops was offered to students. In collaboration with the College Advisers and the University Community Service Center, CAPS presented a panel discussion, titled “The Full-Time Job Search,” which gave students tips on how to strategize and organize their search. The discussion emphasized an important point to those who may not be familiar with marketing their University degrees. “You need to learn how to sell your skills, not your concentration,” Michaels told students.

    CAPS also sponsored “Graduate School: What You Need to Know” for students considering the academic track and a workshop that addressed the special needs of international students, such as cross-cultural issues and work permits. “On Campus Recruiting” prepped students for the opportunities presented by the on-campus recruiting season, which typically brings a wide range of employers to Chicago. The “Looking Forward” workshops concluded with “Consulting and Financial Services Day,” an in-depth review of how to prepare for careers in the consulting and financial industries.

    Fourth-year Ian Desai, an Ancient Studies concentrator, said “Looking Back, Looking Forward” served as a reminder of CAPS activities, but also it served an equally important purpose. “It promoted class unity,” said Desai of the all-class gathering. “It also demonstrates the University is paying more attention to the needs of College students,” he added.