Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass graduates are ‘attractive to employers’

By Mark Dunphy

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Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

With the total cost of attendance for full-time undergraduates rising above $40,000 for out-of-state students, University of Massachusetts students want to ensure that the diploma they receive on the McGuirk Stadium stage will prove its worth as they enter the workforce.

The United States economy welcomed 2016 by adding 292,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate of five percent is the lowest in seven years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given these numbers, seniors eyeing life after UMass have a right to be optimistic, and can look to the success of recent graduates as an example to emulate.

UMass awarded degrees to 5,421 students in 2015, and in the Graduating Senior Survey, 93.1 percent of the respondents were either somewhat or very satisfied with their overall experience at the University. They were asked to share their post-UMass plans, as well as the educational experiences they participated in during their undergraduate years.

Of the respondents, 64.5 percent expected full-time employment to be their principal activity after graduation, with 20.9 percent entering graduate or professional school.

In addition to the degrees they earned, many students furnished their resumes with experience outside the classroom. Of the respondents, 63.6 percent participated in an internship or co-op, 61.2 percent did community service or volunteer work and 29.3 percent assisted faculty in research projects. The survey was conducted by the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Research.

Candice Serafino, director of Career Services, emphasized the importance of pipeline programs, such as internships and co-ops, especially for liberal arts students.

“Having multiple internships really positions the students in non-technical fields well, and gives them a better opportunity to get hired to a full-time job,” Serafino said.

According to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 78 percent of employers will recruit full-time employees from their intern pools.

James Villalobos, a junior journalism major, said his internship experience will “definitely” give him a leg up entering the work force.

“Especially with journalism, they want you to have multiple internships because they want to see how well-rounded you are as a candidate,” Villalobos said. “With internships, you get to know people, and they know people who know people. It’s all about networking at the end of the day.”

The University works to ensure their graduates’ success in the job market through the CareerConnect jobs and internships database, as well as by holding career fairs and instructing students on professional dress and resumes.

“Our office does work to support students and alumni in career development, and I coordinate a number of programs such as the new UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor Network, career workshops, webinars and a number of online resources that we fund and provide to students and alumni at no cost,” said Katie DeBeer, the Alumni Association’s associate director for professional and volunteer services.

The Alumni Advising Network is an online platform that connects UMass students to alumni with whom they can have a career chat, resume review or mock interview.

Many organizations are known to hire multiple UMass students year after year. Serafino provided a list of these employers that ranged from State Street Corporation to Raytheon to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She also highlighted Teach for America (25 to 35 UMass graduates hired yearly) and the Peace Corps (15 to 25 hires) as organizations that the University serves as a large feeder for.

According to Serafino, UMass students are attractive to employers because they are “smart, lifelong learners with a strong work ethic.”

Jenny Spencer, chair of the English department, said that more than half of the graduates from the department are double majors, and go on to have careers in a wide variety of industries.

“These students do themselves a real service by being able to present themselves as excellent writers and readers in the secondary fields in which they are interested,” Spencer said.

The value of a college degree depends heavily on the major a student pursues, and whether he or she attains a graduate or professional degree. But overall, the degree is still considered worth the investment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2014, the median weekly earnings for people with a bachelor’s degree were $1,193, compared with $668 for high school graduates without any college. That translates to $1 million more in lifetime earnings for college graduates, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard.

Mark Dunphy can be reached at [email protected]

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