University sees record high post graduation employment numbers | News

RIVER FALLS – The University of Wisconsin-River Falls reported 94% of graduating students received employment within the first six months after graduation. The report is for students who graduated from August 2020 through May 2021.

The number is up 6% since the last report and ties the record high for the university set back in 2016.

The report is called “The Final Destination Report”. It was conducted by the Career Services department at UW-River Falls.

Career Services Director Melissa Wilson said data was gathered through a variety of ways. One method was an exit survey from the department asking graduates their future plans.

Another method of data collected was from graduates who posted their new employment on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Melissa Wilson is the director of Career Services at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The department reported 94% of graduating students received employment within the first six months after graduation.

Students who found internships, continued their education or joined the military were also included in the report. Wilson said smaller studies have been done but this sample size provides “a great view of the class”.

“We’re in constant data collection mode so when a student reports their new employment we add it to the report,” Wilson said.

Career Services works to help students find employment or internships during or after their college journey. Wilson said getting the report was a “collaborative effort” from the department.

Wilson believes these numbers would not be possible without academic preparation from faculty. She said the student-focused faculty reflects the report.

“Our faculty and staff prepare students do a great job of preparing them for post graduation,” Wilson said. “Their constant engagement is reflected in this report.”

The data for the report was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wilson said the pandemic did not slow any students down for finding employment. She said it benefited graduates.

“During the pandemic we saw lots of career switches. These gaps left opportunities open for people, especially students, to fill those gaps,” Wilson said.

The most interesting piece of data Wilson had to report was the average salary a UWRF graduate can expect to earn. The report showed an average salary of slightly over $48,000.

“It allows students who had prior experiences to benefit because it allows them to enter the market at a non-entry level salary,” Wilson explained.

Wilson said the average salary shows how much employers value a college degree. She added it demonstrates the value of having an internship.

“Having those internships and experiences in their career field makes them marketable to employers,” she said.

Other important findings in the report include the number of graduates who stay in either Wisconsin or Minnesota. That number was reported at 89%.

The report showed graduates were hired in 34 different states and six countries. It showed graduates working at 688 unique companies including 43 classified as Fortune 500.

“It’s impressive, we plan to use this data for recruitment of new students and to make the university marketable,” Wilson said.

While the report shows beneficial results, Wilson said some minor things can be improved. One improvement to keep the numbers high is to promote the “Hired Before Graduation” marketing campaign.

Wilson said the campaign encourages students to use Career Services to find an internship or employment as a freshman when they arrive on campus.

The goal of the campaign is to highlight students who had either an internship or employment before graduation. Students then share their stories to other students, encouraging them to join the campaign.

Wilson believes the campaign contributes to the positive data in the report. She said the department plans to continue promoting the program to students.

“Statistics are important but stories are the fabric of the university,” Wilson said.


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