Maggie Nolan

The number of Yale undergraduates who opt to pursue graduate education immediately after college continues to drop, while the number of students pursuing careers in technology or healthcare is on the rise, according to an Office of Career Strategy first-destination report for the class of 2017, released in January.

The Office of Career Strategy has been producing first-destination reports since 2013. Of the 1,396 graduates in the class of 2017, 1,290 — or 92.4 percent — completed the most recent survey. According to the report, more than 80 percent of graduates of the class of 2017 entered the job market straight after college. The sharpest decline from the previous four years came in the number of students who begin graduate school right after college.

“This is now the fifth year [we are conducting this survey], so it is interesting to compare [results],” said Jeanine Dames, the director of the Office of Career Strategy. “Some things stayed fairly similar, especially between 2016 and 2017, but there were some differences.”

While the top two industries employing Yalies right after graduation were the same as in the previous four years — finance and education — technology moved to number three for the first time, pushing consulting down one spot.

The health care, medical and pharmaceutical industries together each saw an almost 2 percent rise in the number of Yalies hired, consistent with the upward trend of recent years.

“I think part of the uptick in the health care field is due to the general popularity of the industry and the reasons why students are interested in health care overall,” said Laurie Coppola, the senior associate director of the Health Professions Advisory Program at the Office of Career Strategy. “It is an industry that is attractive to Yale students because it is has diverse roles [and] opportunities to innovate and is not tied to any particular geographic market.”

Dames pointed out that even though the popularity of the technology industry is on the rise, the number of Yale graduates with jobs involving programming and software development went down from 6.4 percent last year to 5 percent this year. According to Dames, this shows that students are choosing tech companies because “they are excited about the companies and innovation” but at the same time are opting for jobs at those companies that are more tailored to their specific interests.

She attributed the drop in the number of students starting graduate education straight after college to the fact that there are more and more graduate programs, especially in medical schools, that want their students to have some work experience before they continue their educations. Since the Office of Career Strategy first conducted the survey in 2013, she added, the hiring market has been growing stronger, which may also affect the number of students who choose to take gap years between their undergraduate and graduate educations.

Of the graduates who went straight into the job market, more than 60 percent found employment in the top five industries, and 67.7 percent of respondents indicated that their area of employment was either “highly related” or “related” to their field of study at Yale. Of those employed, almost 63 percent of graduates reported having a salary of $50,000 or more, with 8.6 percent making more than $100,000 a year.

Notably, graduates of the class of 2017 took up positions in the government at a rate of just 2.4 percent, lower than in the previous five years. 

“[Yale College] students oftentimes share with advisors in the office that they can see themselves contributing to the world in so many different ways,” said Senior Associate Director of the Office of Career Strategy Stephanie Waite, who focuses on government and education advising and programming. “The decrease in the amount of students entering government-specific positions may be the manifestation of this desire to contribute to the working world in different ways. With more than 35 percent of Yale College students entering public service positions upon graduation, we are still witnessing a strong interest in this type of work, and students are finding great fits within other sectors, too, such as nonprofit.”

The report also showed a significant drop in the number of students who secured employment before spring of their senior year — the figure was consistent at slightly more than 50 percent for the past two years but dropped to around 45 percent for the class of 2017. 

Dames hypothesized that this could be due to early recruitment deadlines “backfiring” on employers: Students who are taking summer internships in fields with early recruitment may now more often realize that the industry is not for them and go back to the job market during their senior year.

“I think that it’s an interesting thing for students to realize — not to stress about [employment], because even with such huge [changes], a similar number of students was employed [right after graduation],” Dames said.

Anastasiia Posnova | anastasiia.posnova@yale.edu