Taking a Look at Life After WC

By Elijah McGuire-Berk
Elm Staff Writer

As another spring semester draws to a close, Washington College’s seniors will be graduating and moving on to new adventures. What seniors will be doing after college varies, but WC’s Center for Career Development is keeping track of what plans the soon-to-be graduating class has for their post-graduation lives.

The Interim Director of the Center for Career Development (CCD) and Assistant Director of Employer Outreach and Relations Lisa Moody has been gathering these statistics for the College. She oversees the administration of three different surveys: the Senior Plan survey, the Cap and Gown survey, and the Follow Up survey.

WC administers a Senior Plan survey to the senior class post-commencement that asks them what plans they have for post-graduation and how far they are in achieving that goal. The survey is very popular with the outgoing class, and the CCD records answers from more than half of the graduates.

Seniors receive the Cap and Gown survey, which is similar in content to the Senior Plan version, the day before graduation. It has an impressive response rate in the 90th percentile.

Finally, the College sends out the Follow Up survey to recent alumni who graduated six to nine months ago. The survey has a response rate of about 20 percent, but the College ranking standards allow WC to use third party verification such as LinkedIn or the Alumni Relations office to see if a student has employment. These surveys are administered through Qualtrics pages.

Over the years, Moody has noticed that the number of students who have been accepted into graduate school, have a job, or have a job offer at the time of graduation has remained steady.

“We’re looking to change that; we’d like to see a positive increase in all three of them,” said Moody, who reports that the positive change was seen in the 2016 reports.

She also gave advice to seniors, “If you have not secured a job and you’re still looking, please contact the Career Center, we’d be happy to help you with that process. For those who are in the process, good luck and we look forward to hearing some fantastic things.”

Currently, the list of employers for seniors  includes the Walt Disney Corporation, the Church Hill Theatre, and Northwestern Mutual. The list of graduate and professional schools includes Duke University, Cornell University, George Washington University, and the University of Sciences Philadelphia.

Georgina Bliss at the Center for Career Development is a career coach. She noted that most of the job-seeking students she has spoken to can be categorized as “focused” or “not focused.”

“Some students come in and they know exactly what they want to do and exactly where they want to do it,” said Bliss.

She said that these students had a more direct plan, but were sometimes so dedicated to what they wanted to do that they were unwilling to consider other opportunities which would have benefited them.

She said, “…They’re so focused on something else that they forgo something that might have been a great stepping stone or a great opportunity.”

She noticed the unfocused students would talk to her with the impression that they haven’t done enough to further their goals in their interest area.

“I’ve had students come in and they say, ‘I’ve done nothing, I can’t find a job.’ Then you realize through talking to them that they’ve done a lot and you start to hear a theme in the conversation,” said Bliss.

Bliss also took note of students with graduate school goals in mind. She said, “Most of the students I’ve talked to do not want to go right to grad school.”

She said that they generally want to go to work, take a break from schooling for a bit, and/or make sure that their graduate school and area of interest is something that they truly want to pursue.

“I think that’s really smart,” Bliss said, “to take a break from grad school and test the waters in an industry to make sure you actually like it.”

She also spoke about the possibility of career changes and said, “You must remember that your first job is your first job, it’s not your forever job.”

Jennifer Hutton, alumni and constituent engagement volunteer coordinator also spoke about tips for graduating and rising seniors.

She emphasized the importance of networking and said, “Recent grads really need to learn how to network, and polish their social skills before going and looking for those first jobs.  The Career Center is needed more than ever due to the student’s reliance on computers rather than the face to face interactions that help recent graduates excel faster in their desired career field.” She also recommended that job-seeking seniors use social media to their advantage and said, “… yes, all employers will Google search you.”

Hutton also referenced the Path to Passion program, which pairs alumni with current students who are planning to major in the same subject. More information about this program can be found at www.washcoll.edu/alumni/path-to-passion/majors.

Information for the Cap and Gown and Follow Up surveys are available online at the Career Center’s assessment page at www.washcoll.edu/offices/career-development/outcomes.php. Anyone who wishes to make an appointment with someone at the Career Center may do so at their website at www.washcoll.edu/offices/career-development/ or email them at caree

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