Hiring trends: Where University of Virginia grads are headed

May 16, 2006 — University of Virginia students are getting recruited earlier, with some starting their fourth year of college with jobs already in their pockets.

Recruiting now begins in the student’s second year of college, when potential employers start interviewing students for internships, said James L. McBride, the executive director of the University Career Services. Employers use the internships as a three-month job interview.

“Last year, 65 percent of our students indicated they had internships and 63 percent got offers,” said Tom Fitch, assistant dean of commerce career services. “Of those 32 percent accepted.”

This recruiting shift forces students to be more career-minded earlier in their college career, Fitch said.

Because of early recruitment, about 20 percent of the rising fourth-year engineering students begin their last year with a job, said C. J. Livesay, director of Engineering Career Development. He has been surveying engineering students about pending jobs and estimated that about 70 percent would be walking the Lawn with jobs already in their pockets. Salaries will range from $40,000 to $65,000 a year.

“Because of Homeland Security, a larger number of employers are requiring security clearances, which can take nine to 18 months,” Livesay said. “They will hire interns, send them back to school as employees on educational leave and hope the clearance will be in by the time they graduate.”

There will be about 379 undergraduates and 250 graduate students walking the Lawn this year from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

About 72 percent of Commerce students already have a job lined up before they graduate, Fitch said. The salary range for commerce students runs from $35,500 to $56,000 a year, with some students receiving signing bonuses of up to $6,000.

Career services collects employment figures for College of Arts & Sciences’ graduates throughout the summer. According to 2005 figures, 26 percent of the students were going to graduate or professional schools. Of that group, 56 percent went to graduate school, 23 percent to law school and 20 percent attended medical school. The second highest group, 16 percent, were headed to jobs in education, while 9 percent were going into banking and financial services. Salary ranges for students from the College were $18,000 to $70,000 per year, based on 2005 numbers. This year Arts & Sciences will graduate about 2,200 students.

Fitch, using numbers he has already collected this year, said that 49 percent of the commerce students were bound for financial services jobs, 25 percent were going into consulting, 12 percent were headed for sales and marketing, and 11 percent were going into accounting. There will be about 327 commerce students graduating this year.

Fitch said there has been an increase in consulting jobs as the economy improves, up from 19 percent last year. Graduates, unless they have a particular expertise that is in high demand, start as junior members of consulting teams, he said. There has also been an increase in accounting students going to graduate school, as the requirements to take the Certified Public Accountant examination have increased.

Engineering students are entering the best job market Livesay has seen since 1999. Students are fielding more offers, he said, and fewer are opting to enter graduate school, which happens when the job market dips. The engineering job market is also changing, shifting from the traditional manufacturing and design work to more financial services, management and consulting.

“Employers realize [engineering graduates] can bring their problem-solving skills with them to address problems in other fields,” Livesay said.

Engineering students have been able to take up to 18 credits at the McIntire School of Commerce, which Livesay said gets recruiters’ attention.

“We’ve been pushing students to get internships, and some real-life experience so they can hit the ground running,” Livesay said.

Students today, he said, are looking for challenging work that will be beneficial for mankind.