As 2016 commencement approaches, new data shows that graduates from the class of 2015 have made significant progress in their post-Northwestern career pursuits.
Northwestern Career Advancement’s 2015 Post-Graduation Study, which represents 79 percent of the undergraduate class of 2015, found that 64 percent of graduates were working full time or holding a paid public service position six months after graduation, compared to 62 percent in 2014. Further, 20 percent study in graduate or professional school, with others involved in a variety of other career-related activities, including fellowships, post-graduate internships, freelance work and more. Only 3 percent of graduates reported that they were actively job searching six months after graduation.
The class of 2015 works in a variety of industries for a wide range of employers, including the Smithsonian Institution, SpaceX, McKinsey & Company, Google, The Walt Disney Company and more. This reflects the diverse academic paths students take at Northwestern.
Class of 2015 success stories
Junius Randolph (Medill ‘15) connected with a future co-worker at a National Association of Black Journalists conference who assisted in arranging his phone interview. Randolph works as a digital producer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Charlotte Garcia’s senior design project led her to her first job. Garcia (Bienen & McCormick ’15), who studied music cognition and biomedical engineering in the dual-degree program, worked on a hearing technology project for a client at Resonance Medical, LLC, where she later worked. In upper level music cognition classes, Garcia said she blended her unique background in mathematics and biology with music.
“It was in these classes that I decided I wanted to spend my career working in hearing science, like hearing aids or cochlear implants,” Garcia said.
On campus, Derek Tucker (McCormick ‘15) involved himself in a variety of activities before finding his career path. Likewise, 93 percent of 2015 graduates reported “deep involvement” in student groups or athletics during their time at Northwestern.
In his current position, Tucker works as a business analyst on the digital team for marketing agency FCB Chicago.
“Working on data-driven, creative solutions for clients in the digital space utilizes a perfect blend of the strategic, analytical background that industrial engineering gave me and the experience I got working on digital marketing for student groups,” Tucker said.
Garcia said her internship at Baxter Healthcare and experience on campus in organizations such as Engineers for a Sustainable World helped inform her decision to move from software-based work back to more hands-on work. As an intern, Garcia said she felt she could thrive at Baxter.
“I felt I was very well suited for this work, as I was surrounded by a large number of experts in the field and it required a lot of hands-on work in the laboratory,” Garcia said.
Garcia ended up in manufacturing operations, the same department she worked in as an intern.
“Having contacts already in the department was instrumental in securing a position there, and has definitely aided my transition into work life,” Garcia said.
The 2015 Post-Graduation Study data shows that 88 percent of respondents had engaged in an experiential learning opportunity, such as Chicago Field Studies, study abroad, Medill on the Hill, or an internship. Tucker, for example, interned at FCB Chicago, where he now works full time.
Randolph said his journalism residency at USA Today, where he produced multimedia, probably helped the most in his career preparation.
“It helped me see the flexibility of digital,” Randolph said.
16 percent of graduates from the class of 2015 work in communications, marketing or media, according to the data. A 2012 survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace found that the media and communications field values internships most when evaluating recent college graduates relative to other industries.
For students interning at a site where they may seek full-time employment, Tucker emphasized the importance of asking for more work to feel sufficiently challenged.
“The best way to get hired? Work so hard at your internship that the company you're working for wonders how they were getting along before you got there,” advised Tucker.
47 percent of graduates work in Illinois, with 17 percent in New York and 10 percent in California. Others are working in more than 30 other states, with some outside of the U.S. Chicago hosts a strong Northwestern community. Tucker said a number of his college best friends also work in the city.
“It's great being able to get together on Fridays for happy hours and talk about post-grad life or reminisce on our favorite undergrad memories,” Tucker said.
The alumni community even extends to the office for Tucker, where he said he enjoys having an immediate connection with co-workers who attended Northwestern. Garcia also works closely with two other Northwestern graduates on her team at Baxter.