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Survey Finds Students are Happy with How Southwestern Prepares Them for Work or Graduate School

  • News Image
    Chemistry professor Maha Zewail-Foote (right) helped 2012 graduate Jodi Kirk land a job with a company in Round Rock that makes very pure versions of drugs. Kirk credits the research experience she had at Southwestern with helping her land the job.
  • News Image
    Communication studies major Jackie Steen (right) says Southwestern has prepared her well for work or graduate school. She and fellow senior Jonathan Miley are shown here talking to Erin Ross, a 2003 graduate who majored in communication studies, at the 2014 Career Connections BBQ.

Career Services has conducted an annual postgraduate survey for more than 25 years

If history is any indication, members of Southwestern’s Class of 2014 should not have too much trouble either finding a job or getting accepted into graduate school.

A survey of students who graduated from Southwestern in 2013 found that within one year of graduation, more than 92 percent of respondents were either working or in graduate school.

Career Services has been conducting a postgraduate survey for more than 25 years. Over the past 14 years that Alexandra Anderson, associate director of career services, has been managing the survey, the results have been consistently similar, even after the economic downturn in 2008.

Unlike many schools, Southwestern makes a deliberate effort to find out what happens to every student who graduates. The 2013 postgraduate survey is based on responses from 98 percent of the students who graduated between December 2012 and August 2013.

Of those students, 67 percent are now employed and 25 percent are in graduate or professional school. Graduates who chose to go directly into the workforce are now employed at places ranging from Apple, Inc. to the U.S. Navy. And graduates who chose to continue their education are attending some of the best graduate schools in the country, including Princeton, Rice, SMU, The University of Texas School of Law and UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The postgraduate survey also asks alumni how happy they are with how Southwestern prepared them for work or graduate school. In the Class of 2013, 90 percent said they were either “very happy” or “satisfied” with how Southwestern prepared them.

Jodi Kirk is among the recent graduates who say they are very satisfied with how Southwestern prepared them for work or graduate school. Within a week of graduating from Southwestern in 2012 with a degree in chemistry, Kirk got an interview with a company in Round Rock called Cerilliant Corporation that makes very pure versions of drugs for drug testing companies, chemical companies and hospitals. One of Kirk’s chemistry professors, Maha Zewail-Foote, helped her get the interview because she knew a manager at the company from graduate school.

Kirk said the research she did as an undergraduate at Southwestern helped her land a job with Cerilliant. At Southwestern, she had helped chemistry professors Frank Guziec and Sandra Loudwig synthesize anti-cancer agents.

“A lot of students in college don’t get hands-on experience like I did,” Kirk said.

Kirk started working for Cerilliant as a lab tech in July 2012 and within a year and a half was promoted to research scientist. “I really enjoy working where I am,” she said.

Kirk was among about 20 alumni who came back to campus for the 2014 Career Connections BBQ sponsored by Career Services. The event offers students an opportunity to visit with alumni who are working in fields of interest to them. Fifty students ranging from first-year students to seniors attended this year’s event.

Jackie Steen, a senior communication studies major, was among the students who signed up for the event. Although she wants to go into higher education administration, Steen went because she wanted to see what other people with her major have been doing.

With graduation less than a month away, Steen said she was not worried about finding a job.

“Being at a liberal arts school has made me a much better writer and has given me the ability to have conversations with lots of people on all topics,” she said. “I think my education has set me above others.”