Timing may not be all, but it’s important

In November we completed our career plans survey of the class of 2013. We had a tremendous return: 2,021 graduates responded, just over 80% of the class. A return this high is a reflection of the graduates’ willingness to let us know what they’re doing, but it also reflects the huge amount of work people in Career Services do to reach out and cajole those we hadn’t heard from. I am grateful to all.

The results are extremely encouraging for current seniors. The members of the class of 2013 were employed full time at a high rate (almost 74%), up from 71% last year and 68% for 2011. Slightly fewer (16%) are going directly to graduate school, down from 18% last year and 20% in 2011. For the last two years 6% of the class reported that they were seeking employment by the November closing of the survey. This year, only 5.8% were still seeking, an extremely low number. The lowest we have recorded was 4% in pre-recessionary 2007.

The employment by industry changes are worth noting. For example, the percentage of the full-time employed graduates working in finance dropped from 33% in 2011, to 31% in 2012, to 29% this year. Health care dropped to 6%; it was 9% the past two years. Consulting remains very popular: 19% are working in consulting, down from 20% last year but equal to the 19% in 2011. Similarly, education was the choice of 9%, up from 8% last year and equaling the 9% in 2011. Technology took 9% of those employed, up from 8% last year and 7% in 2011. These industry swings are modest, but interesting.

Medicine and law remain the most popular graduate school choices, but fewer students are going directly into these programs each year. Of those who are in graduate school, 21% are in medicine, down from 22% last year and 25% in 2011. Law dropped from 19% in 2011 to 18% in 2012 to 17% this year. Engineering graduate fields jumped from 14% in 2011 to 17% for the second year in a row. The biggest change was in science. Those pursuing graduate degrees in science disciplines jumped from 8% in 2011, to 9% in 2012 to 14% this year. Clearly the demand for STEM graduates is influencing graduate school choices.

For more information on the class of 2013, including top employers and top graduate schools, please see http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/files/Class2013CareerPlans.pdf. Combined with the decline in the national unemployment rate (it’s now 7%, a five year low), the survey results mean that seniors should feel confident that job opportunities will be available to them. It’s a good year to be graduating and starting a career.

Author: Patricia Rose

Patricia Rose is the Director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania.