The proportion of Yale graduates choosing careers in technology and health care is on the rise, according to a four-year report by the Yale Office of Career Services. The increase aligns broadly with trends at peer institutions, including Harvard and Princeton.
According to the report, which details the postgraduate destinations of the classes of 2013 through 2016, there has been an increase of 3.2 percentage points of students entering the tech industry across the four-year period. Similarly, the number of graduates entering the health care, medical and pharmaceutical fields increased by 2.8 percent.
Most other industries, however, either remained consistent or saw a slight decrease. According to OCS Director Jeanine Dames, while a 3.2 percentage point increase may normally not be significant, it is notable for Yale, which, as a liberal arts college, does not funnel students into one particular industry. The report was based on a response rate of 90.4 percent.
“Yale students are excited to be part of growing industries, and these are two industries in which there’s a lot of change and opportunity,” Dames said. “As industries grow and expand, new jobs get created.”
Dames said the tech industry has seen a steady growth in past 20 years, not only for large tech companies, but also for startups and “more niche areas.”
She said several West Coast colleges with historic links to the tech industry had hit their “saturation points,” adding that tech employers are beginning to see the value of liberal arts colleges like Yale.
“[Tech] organizations are coming to Yale because they want students who not only understand the programming but also understand the people operations, the communications side and team management,” Dames said. “There was a time when some tech firms were looking for people who could just code, but as you’re expanding and as you’re growing, you’re also looking for future leaders.”
She noted that within tech organizations and in the tech industry, Yale graduates are drawn to a diverse range of “functional areas” besides programming, including business development, people operations and internal strategy. Studying computer science allows students to better understand the business they are working for, regardless of functional role, she said.
Holly Rushmeier, a Yale computer science professor, echoed this sentiment.
“I think that a substantial factor in this growth is likely the employment opportunities,” Rushmeier said. “There are many things CS majors can do post-graduation. Software development is just one, and there is a strong demand for that.”
Rushmeier also noted that Yale students’ interest in the tech industry has grown against the backdrop of increased global interest in computer science.
Pulin Sanghvi ’92, the executive director of career services at Princeton University, said that because Princeton uses the North American Industry Classification System codes in aggregating data, their office combines professional, scientific and technology jobs together. This category, Sanghvi noted, includes tech jobs but also fields such as management consulting.
Despite a data point for the growth in interest for the tech industry, Sanghvi said that he, too, has seen a strong increase among Princeton students in interest in technology and entrepreneurial jobs.
“As a sector, technology companies are now a larger part of the global economy, so we now see tech centers starting to emerge in other parts of the U.S. and a strong emergence of technology in other parts of the world,” Sanghvi said. “That growth has created a huge increase in opportunities for graduating college seniors. At the same time, we’ve also seen at many universities across the country a significant interest among students in computer science and engineering.”
Sanghvi said there is currently a “major generational shift” since the mid-to-late 1990s from traditional private sector business jobs such as investment banking and consulting, to entrepreneurial and startup opportunities largely in technology. According to Sanghvi, there has been a rapid rise in the number of organizations hiring graduating seniors, from small seed-stage startups to large, established tech companies.
Sanghvi also noted that in addition to the increased interest in tech, there is a much larger number of students starting their own companies and becoming entrepreneurs, particularly as entrepreneurship is becoming understood to a greater degree.
“This is one of the very best times in the 21st and 20th century to be graduating from college because the economy is very strong and there are all these discrete choices on where to work,” Sanghvi said.
At Harvard University, there has also been a similar increase in interest in the tech industry. In the class of 2016, 12 percent of graduating seniors intended to work in the technology or engineering sector, compared to 6 percent in the class of 2013. While Harvard combines the two fields, Yale separates them. According to the OCS four-year report, employment in the engineering industry has grown from 1 percent with the class of 2013 to 2.4 percent with the class of 2016.
“Like Yale, Harvard has also has been seeing a rise in students seeking tech roles post-graduation,” said Robin Mount, director of Career, Research and International Opportunities at Harvard. “A few possible reasons for this, we feel, are the high salaries, the popular office locations and the workplace culture of relaxed dress, free food and the entrepreneurial and innovative work environment.