Despite some of the worst graduate employment numbers in five years, a new Virginia Tech Post-Graduation Report shows more students are tapping into previous job experiences to find work.
The numbers are compiled by Virginia Tech’s Career Services office as a part of its yearly Post-Graduation Report.
While both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 reports showed 59 percent of respondents finding employment, the new 2008-09 report, released Jan. 26, showed that
only 50 percent of respondents were able to find work, with an additional 25 percent reporting that they were “still seeking” employment or “considering options at last response.”
The employment rates found in the report are the lowest since 2003, when 48 percent of graduates reported finding work.
Catherine Copeland, who compiled the report for Career Services, said it was too early to jump to conclusions based on the report.
Copeland noted that while the number of graduates who reported having jobs was down, bonuses for those receiving work were up.
According to the report, the median bonus received by graduates taking jobs for the 2008-09 report was $3,500 — up from $3,000 in 2007-08. The report also noted a drop in those receiving bonuses with their job offers, down to 24 percent in 2008-09 from 31 percent in 2007-2008.
The 2008-09 report shows a spike in the number of students who found their post-graduation job from a previous work experience, 29 percent for the 2008-09 report compared to 23 percent for the 2007-08 report.
While the newest report showed a decrease in graduate employment, it showed some consistency in graduate salaries. The 2008-09 report showed graduates earning a median salary of $47,000, just a slight decline from $48,000 in the previous year’s report.
Donna Cassell Ratcliffe, director of Tech’s Career Services, noted the importance for students to find work-related experience. Ratcliffe said work experience was among the top things companies looked for when hiring applicants.
“(Students) have a pretty good feeling for what their strengths are,” Ratcliffe said. “It builds a confident job seeker.”
Copeland said familiarity between students and employers helped when it came time to look for work.
“If you’ve worked for somebody before, you know the company and they know you,” Copeland said. “It’s a known situation.”
Ratcliffe advised students to plan ahead in looking for work-related experiences and networking opportunities.
“Ask people who they know who are in the fields that you are pursuing,” Ratcliffe said. “It can help get your foot in the door.”
Ratcliffe said that despite a down economy, students should stay optimistic.
“Things are tight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs out there,” Ratcliffe said. “I’m not saying things are great, but if students really concentrate on their job search, and take some positive steps, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their outcome.”