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Most of McCormick Class of 2010 Had Jobs at Graduation

Ninety-five percent of students who graduated from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science in June 2010 had a job or graduate school lined up by graduation, according to an in-house survey.

That is the highest percentage in years, due in part to better economic conditions, ambitious students, and expanded career development options for undergraduates.

“In these economic times our students realized they needed to start early and spend time launching their career, and they were extremely successful in doing this,” says Stephen Carr, associate dean for undergraduate engineering at McCormick. “Over the past two years they’ve seen that getting a job is difficult to do. They knew it was challenging and they stayed the course.”

The survey, which is given to all graduating seniors the month before graduation, showed that 37 percent had a job in finance or consulting — by far the most popular post-graduation career track. Thirty years ago, the most popular career track was manufacturing, Carr said, but consulting has been rising as the most popular career track since 2002, when 14 percent of graduates chose the field.

“Consulting is a good match for our graduates because they have what it takes to be a successful consultant: excellent communication skills, resourcefulness, and a sense of comfort with global responsibilities,” Carr said. “They like jobs in which they have direct influence.”

The other top industry that graduates entered was manufacturing at 22 percent. Thirty-one percent of graduates were going to go to graduate school (another rising trend -- only 15 percent of graduates went to graduate school in 2007), 4 percent were going to go to medical school, and only 5 percent said they were still hunting or had no plans.

Since the economic downturn, McCormick has been offering expanded personal and professional development services to students through the McCormick Office of Career Development in an effort to make them more prepared for their careers. In addition to providing oversight of the Co-op program — which 30 percent of McCormick students participate in, spending up to six quarters working at one of about 200 participating employers while they go to school — the office began offering internship listings and a new course called Introduction to Career Development, which is now a requirement for students who want to participate in an internship or in the co-op program. Nearly 300 students took the course last school year. Now, the office is expanding its services even further to offer students an option to register for a quarter-long research or service learning opportunity.

The undergraduate office is also overseeing a personal development initiative, in which students consider their self awareness (through the use of a self-assessment tool) and have discussions on issues like cocurricular options and why students chose to study engineering at Northwestern.

“It’s rewarding for me to follow these students through their triumphs, challenges, disappointments, and successes,” Carr said. “When they leave, they’ve accomplished a lot personally, and they are ready to embark on the next phase of their lives.”