A (now rare) sighting of in-person networking. Image courtesy of Mines Flickr.
As a recent Mines graduate who chose to get my Master’s instead of heading into the workforce (partially for COVID-related reasons), I was curious. I reached out to Wendy Winter-Searcy, Director of the Mines Career Center (who you’ll likely be hearing from often in the time leading up to Career Day). Her answers to my questions were not quite what I expected . . .
You probably knew the answer to this one. Internships suffered significantly throughout the country this summer and, unfortunately, Mines students were not immune. At worst internship programs were canceled. At best, interns worked remotely. According to Winter-Searcy, some employers compensated with offers of scholarships, guaranteed future jobs or internships, and online training programs. “Many students had to scramble to find alternative plans for their summer,” said Winter-Searcy. “Students who were proactive to find other ways to increase their marketable skills by taking classes, exploring other fields, volunteering, etc. will be the most resilient from a difficult situation.”
Good news! So far, full-time job offers have stayed consistent. According to Winter-Searcy, “ . . . positive outcomes for full-time employment are trending at about the same rate as this time last year. 2020 grads don’t seem to be significantly impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn on preliminary assessment, though it may have shifted how long it is taking to find employment.” When I asked if any majors seemed relatively unaffected, she noted that computer science and civil engineering majors are doing especially well. However, that has been true in previous years.
Better news! Overall starting salaries have increased since last year. Majors with significant increases include Computer Science and Computational & Applied Mathematics. It’s too soon to compare post-graduation outcomes to other schools, but so far it looks like our graduates are doing pretty well.
Contrary to my hypothesis, the proportion of students attending graduate school has only increased slightly as compared to the proportion of students employed in the field.
Currently, it seems that Career Day has suffered a little in terms of employer attendance. According to Winter-Searcy, “Fewer employers are registered for Career Day by about a third, though that could change as we continue to accept registrations. Employers seem to be taking longer to make decisions, perhaps waiting to see final decisions for recruiting this year.” However, she also noted that “[t]he virtual format may allow for additional opportunities to interact with employers and create a positive impression, such as information sessions, webinars, panels, etc.” The Career Center has been hard at work to maximize interaction opportunities in the new virtual environment.
So, seniors, you can relax a little. Overall, it’s good news! However, if you’re still concerned about your future career, like most of us are, Winter-Searcy has a few recommendations to combat any employment issues you’ve encountered due to the “Corona Crash”:
“Seize the moment and take advantage of the current opportunities presented. Employers are hiring now, whereas that could change based on the course of the pandemic. Take advantage of every opportunity to increase in-demand skills and build career-readiness through increasing professionalism and networking. Students who engage with the Career Center are more likely to achieve their goals and have positive outcomes upon graduation.
“The Career Center staff is still here for students while operating mostly virtually. We are dedicated to students’ success and eager to engage and to see you succeed.” •
A bunch of people shaking hands in close quarters, aka Career Day. Image courtesy of Mines Flickr.