With student debt at an all-time high, landing a job has never been more urgent for recent graduates. Most industry experts recommend applying for non-program positions roughly one to two months before graduation. Of course, being prudent and qualified doesn’t guarantee anything — some industries are simply more competitive than others.
With these considerations in mind, Grand Canyon University conducted a poll of more than 1,000 graduates to establish a new standard for young Americans fearful of a lengthy job hunt. The data locates success somewhere between timing and choosing the right collegiate field of study.
A major problem
Ninety percent of graduates who found jobs in their respective fields did so within six months. Conversely, less than 30% of graduates who landed work that did not pertain to their major didn’t begin their careers until two years or more after graduating from college.
The success rate of landing a job was considerably different for graduates depending on their degrees.
Eighty-eight percent of graduates with degrees in engineering and technology landed a job quickly after graduation, while 60% of grads with either journalism or communications degrees were able to find work soon after receiving their diplomas.
But for graduates with a focus in liberal arts, their success rate after the pomp and circumstance was significantly lower, with just 37% of respondents with that focus landing collegiate-related positions.
Gender proved to be another reliable predictor. Male graduates were 13% more likely to land a job in their respective fields after graduation and were also 12% more likely to receive offers while still enrolled compared to female attendees.
“No matter how well-educated someone is in their chosen field, jobs, especially those that require a college education, are never guaranteed. Timing, location, the economy, and so many other factors impact job availability and hiring standards, all of which can make the process of starting a career an imposing prospect,” the authors wrote in the report.
In general, more than half of graduates (53%) received a job offer before they graduated, even if it took a few years for them to settle into their careers.
For graduates who had to adjust career paths, business (20.46%), engineering (17.82%), medical and life sciences (9.24%), retail (5.61%), and education (4.95%) were the most popular secondary options.
Students are beginning to anticipate the looming workforce earlier and earlier, which is a by-product of the Great Recession instilling pragmatism into Generation Z.
This is maybe why more than 60% of participants surveyed in the poll who graduated in 2018 or 2019 said they had a job or a job offer before they received their diploma. Even still, the markers are notoriously hard to predict. When accounting for majors, gender, the state of the economy, and degree of preparation, you still have to adjust for other predictors like region.
The northeast, particularly Connecticut, is the top region as far as job rates are concerned. Eighty-two percent of graduates who live in Connecticut found their first job in the same field they studied in school. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia, round out the top five in this respect. There are some instructive elements to consider from the report, but even the authors concede that there are simply too many factors to reliably predict any outcome.
“The stereotypical life plan for young adults in America has essentially stayed the same for the last several decades: graduate high school, go to college, start a career,” the report said. “While the first two steps of that plan are easy enough to carry out, thanks to the wide range of public and private high schools and colleges in this country, the final step of the traditional life plan brings much more uncertainty.”