Berkeley - After the commencement speeches are over, once the caps and gowns are tucked away, when newly-minted graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, settle into the reality of life after college, where do they go?
Judging from the career destinations of their predecessors, most of them will end up in jobs - even with the economic downturn that has made employment more competitive, according to a new survey by the UC Berkeley Career Center.
Figures from the class of 2001 show that 50.7 percent of UC Berkeley graduates go on to gainful employment, while 17.6 percent enroll in graduate or professional schools. Those figures are comparable with the prior year - 53.3 percent of those graduates got jobs and 17.3 percent went on to pursue advanced degrees.
There was a jump in the percentage of students seeking a job in 2001 compared with 2000, up to 16.9 percent from 13.5 percent, respectively.
Figures for the class of 2002 are still coming in, but preliminary data suggest that slightly more students are starting their job hunt earlier. "In 2000 and 2001, about 20 percent of the graduates who were seeking employment waited until after graduation to start their job search," said Tom Devlin, director of the Career Center. "So far in 2002, we're seeing that number decrease. By and large, the student reaction to the economy is to be more realistic and practical."
Although graduate and professional schools often report a rise in applications during a tight job market, the increase does not seem to be coming from new graduates, at least from UC Berkeley.
"We're not seeing any increase in the percentage of students who go on to graduate or professional schools," said Devlin. "About the same percentage of our graduates are seeking employment this year compared with prior years. What has changed is the ease with which students are landing their jobs. They're doing more than just submitting a résumé. They're learning how to market themselves more effectively, and they're more flexible in terms of their career options."
Devlin said that in 2002, employer recruitment at UC Berkeley was down 30 to 35 percent from the prior year, but he noted that there were likely higher-than-average recruiting rates during the years of the Bay Area's economic boom.
"Job seekers may have also noticed that employers are being more selective about salary bonuses," said Devlin. "We saw 20 percent of our graduates in 2000 getting salary bonuses. That will probably level off to 10 to 15 percent of the graduates this year."
Of the students who found jobs in 2001, there was a 4.1 percent increase in those going into the non-profit and public sectors compared with the year before.
The Career Center began tracking UC Berkeley graduates with a pilot survey in 1999. "There was a dearth of hard data about what happens to the graduates after they leave the university," said Devlin. "We wanted to see how our graduates are transitioning from academia to their careers. There are very few universities around the country conducting surveys as comprehensive as ours."
The survey provides a portrait of where graduates land up to six months after they receive their bachelor's degrees. The survey starts during the second semester of the senior year and continues until the student has been accepted to graduate school, gets a full-time job or six months after graduation, whichever comes first.
Participants log on with their student ID to complete the Web-based survey. The response rates of the surveys have been high, with 47 percent, or 2,873 students, completing the survey for the Class of 2000, and 48 percent, or 2,793 students, responding from the Class of 2001. As an incentive, those who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for cash prizes up to $1,000.
The class consists of bachelor's candidates who get their degrees between December and August. The Class of 2000, for example, includes graduates from December 1999 through August 2000.
For more detailed survey results, including a breakdown of career destinations and average salary information by department, please go to http://career.berkeley.edu, then click on "What can I do with a major in ...."