The University of Virginia’s Class of 2016 is reaping the benefits of a burgeoning employer presence on Grounds and a recovering national economy.
UVA’s Career Center welcomed more than 370 employers for on-Grounds interviews, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. In addition, the Career Center and its affiliates hosted 15 career fairs this year, featuring more than 340 companies. These included new additions like the Green Job and Internship Fair, focused on sustainability; the Global Development Career Day, highlighting international opportunities; and the Start-Up Fair, introducing students to more than 30 entrepreneurial ventures eager for young talent.
“We held more specialized fairs so that students can invest their time in something they are really interested in,” said Everette Fortner, UVA’s associate vice president of career and professional development. “These were all new ways to engage employers and get them together with students.”
To prepare students for these opportunities, the UVA Career Center conducted 7,199 advising appointments and increased workshop offerings by 24 percent, reaching roughly 20 percent more students than last year. Students also enjoyed support from six Career Communities, launched to connect students, alumni and employers in specific industry groups.
Strong, Early Hiring
Preliminary numbers indicate strong hiring rates across the University, in keeping with national reports showing a promising market for 2016 graduates. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that employers are projected to hire 5.2 percent more new graduates this year than they did from the Class of 2015.
Many of those job offers came significantly earlier in the academic year.
“More and more students are getting jobs in the fall, because of offers that come as a result of summer internships,” Fortner said. “Helping students secure meaningful summer internships has become a major focus.”
To that end, the Career Center launched the UVA Internship Center in 2015 to help younger students find internships and experiential learning opportunities that can give them an advantage in the job market.
Success Across Schools
Industries like finance or consulting traditionally hire students early in the academic year and continued to do so. Heading into graduation, 96 percent of undergraduate students in the McIntire School of Commerce have accepted job offers, are planning to attend graduate school or are delaying their job search. The current average base salary is $71,756, up from $69,184 last year.
In the Darden School of Business, 84.3 percent of the Class of 2016 has reported job offers, many from the 142 companies that visited Darden to recruit this year. That percentage is expected to increase as more students return survey data.
Schools that typically have later hiring timelines, such as the School of Architecture, also noticed job offers rolling in earlier than ever.
“It has been exciting, anecdotal reports show that students are being offered positions earlier in the year than in past years,” wrote Betsy Roettger, the school’s assistant dean of students for career development. “According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of architects is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average of all occupations.”
She expects finalized statistics to be on par with last year, when, six months after graduation, 90 percent of the undergraduate Class of 2015 reported working in the discipline full-time and 10 percent reported attending graduate school.
Director of Education Career Services Hilary Kerner said more students in the Curry School of Education received early job offers, though final statistics will not be available until schools complete hiring this summer.
“It has been a particularly strong recruiting year for Curry students,” Kerner said, pointing out events like the Education Expo, which brought 96 education employers to Grounds.
The School of Nursing reported a preliminary 85 percent employment rate as of early May, with numbers expected to increase on par with last year’s 99 percent rate three months after graduation.
The School of Law reports employment data 10 months after graduation, per instructions from the national accrediting agency for law schools. The school’s most recent graduating class had a 97 percent employment rate. More graduates of UVA Law have clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court in the last five years than of any school except Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities. The school was tied for third in the number of alumni who made partner at major U.S. law firms, according to a recent National Law Journal survey, and has graduates working in every firm in American Lawyer’s list of the 100 top-grossing U.S. law firms.
Julia Lapan, director of career development at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, said that slightly over 50 percent of engineering graduates have registered post-graduation plans with the school. Of those, 60 percent reported full-time job offers and 13 percent were continuing to graduate school. Lapan expects both numbers to increase in the coming months.
“While it is too early to report salary data, preliminary data is strong and shows our median starting salary to be on par and likely to exceed last year’s graduating class,” she wrote in an email. Last year’s salary average was $68,000.
The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy also continues to collect data from students as they interview for jobs. Batten students typically enter a range of industries, from federal jobs in Washington, D.C. to consulting and investment banking, services organizations like Teach for America and the Peace Corps, or top technology companies like Google.
“One of the benefits of having a public policy degree is that they can truly go into any field and make a difference,” Batten’s Director of Career Services Barbara Hampton said. “We have definitely seen an increase in employers visiting the Batten School this year.”
Promising Outlook for Just-in-Time Hires
Many companies, particularly those focused on media, technology or the creative arts, hire later in the spring and summer. Students aiming for those jobs receive support from career advisers like Kate Melton, who leads the Creative Arts, Media & Design Career Community.
“Students interested in the arts have a variety of paths to choose from, and more and more employers are looking for employees who can use design thinking and creative problem-solving to advance their work,” Melton wrote in an email. “This puts our UVA students at a distinct advantage due to the interdisciplinary nature of the liberal arts curriculum.”
Fortner emphasizes that graduating students targeting these markets should not be worried if they do not yet have a position.
“A lot of the arts fields, as well as education, entrepreneurship, technology and real estate, hire much more on an as-needed basis,” he said. “Students who do not have offers yet should not be worried, but should be doubling their efforts coming into June, because that is when more positions will be available.”