Yale undergraduates are entering nonprofit and government work in greater numbers while fewer students are pursuing graduate study and research, according to an Office of Career Strategy report released this month.
The first-ever OCS Four Year Report, which compiled first destination reports — for the classes of 2013 through 2016, showed that while post-graduate academic pursuits have dipped over the last four years, the overall percentage of Yalies entering graduate school or the workforce after graduation remains high. Overall, 90.4 percent of graduates responded to the OCS destination surveys, which ask recent graduates about their postgraduate activities, during the last four years.
According to OCS Director Jeanine Dames, her office started tracking first destination data in 2013 in the hopes of supplementing the initial report with “longitudinal reports by four-year cohort and comparisons across individual years and cohorts.” In the fourth year of data collection, Dames said, OCS can start the in-depth analysis.
Dames said that starting this spring, OCS will also be reconnecting with the class of 2013 to survey “where are they now” and compare that information with their first destinations.
One of the most interesting trends that emerged from the 2016 report was the increase in students working with nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations, government or other public agencies, Dames said. Though she argued that some of this boost likely came in part from the 2016 political campaigns, she also noted that 37.1 percent of the class of 2016 started their career in a public-service or common-good oriented career, a significant boost over the class of 29.6 percent of the class of 2015 who did.
Robyn Acampora, director of strategic initiatives and public service careers at OCS, suggested that, due to campaign work around the election, it is possible that Yale students are now recognizing OCS as a resource for their job search in nonprofit, government, education, arts and communications industries — the areas her office covers —and are starting to fully take advantage.
“They are coming into our office to seek advice, discuss important alumni and employer connections, have their portfolio reviewed, and securing internships in these fields that can lead to full-time jobs,” said Acampora.
Per the 2016 First Destinations Report, the top employer by industry was education, with 16.4 percent of the class working in the field. This represents a significant increase over the 12.5 percent of the class the industry garnered in 2013. Financial services and consulting both took major hits between the 2015 and 2016 reports, with the former falling from 19.1 percent to 16.2 percent, and the latter falling from 14.6 to 12.6 percent. Still, these industries are the second and third most popular areas of employment for the 2016 cohort.
Dames cited these trends as evidence against the “career funneling” of Yalies, a phenomenon in which college students are allegedly funneled into specific industries.
“When considering that no one industry attracts a critical mass of Yale graduates — combined with the fact that consistently a third of each graduating class chooses to work with a nonprofit organization, NGO, government or other public agency, it is clear that concept isn’t relevant at Yale,” Dames said.
Tabulating employment choices by function or role in the 2016 report, finance was the most popular role for Yalies: 15.3 percent of the 2016 graduates are employed in a financial industry, up from 9.5 percent in 2013.
The percentage of Yalies doing independent research immediately after graduation fell dramatically from 14.9 percent in 2013 to 6.6 percent in 2016. Likewise, between the class of 2014 to the class of 2016, the number of students intending to pursue graduate schools within the next five years fell from 82.2 percent to 75.3 percent.
Dames described this is as a surprising trend, but noted that while decreases in funding in some research areas over the past four years likely accounts for this decline, the overall number of students pursuing opportunities in health care and pharmaceuticals has increased at a similar rate.
“It may be that students are still pursuing these research roles, but seeking them in the for-profit sector where the funding and resources are more available,” Dames said.
According to the National Association of College and Employers, 82 percent of college graduates nationally were employed or in graduate school six months after graduation. By comparison, 96.7 percent of Yale College graduates in the class of 2016 have found employment or entered graduate school.