Recent UConn Grads Overwhelmingly Staying in Connecticut for Jobs, Graduate School

Of the UConn undergraduates who received degrees in August 2022, December 2022, and May 2023, about 92% were in pursuits of their choosing within six months

Happy graduate walks at commencement

(Jason Sheldon/UConn Photo)

Record numbers of recent UConn graduates are seeing an immediate return on their investment, securing jobs or pursuing higher education within six months of receiving their diplomas, according to new figures.

What’s more, they overwhelmingly started building their careers in Connecticut, using the skills they learned at UConn in jobs that support the state’s economy, innovation ecosystem, and local communities.

Of the UConn undergraduates who received degrees in August 2022, December 2022, and May 2023, about 92% were in pursuits of their choosing within six months. That is UConn’s highest figure since it started tracking the outcomes in 2016, and also well exceeds the national average of 86%.

Of the 92% with successful six-month outcomes, 58% were employed and 33% were pursuing higher education. The rest were either serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, volunteering, or pursuing other pursuits of their choosing.

And they were loyal to their home state: About 75% of Connecticut natives who graduated from UConn stayed in the state for jobs, up from 69% last year. And, about 80% of in-state students who decided to pursue graduate degrees enrolled in Connecticut institutions, predominantly at UConn.

Many who initially came to UConn from other states decided to stay here, too, with 18% of employed out-of-state graduates working in Connecticut and 38% enrolling in Connecticut colleges or universities – again, mostly at UConn – for graduate programs.

“These are all students who graduate, stay in Connecticut, have jobs in Connecticut, contribute to the economy, pay taxes, buy groceries, eat at our restaurants, come to our entertainment venues, and continue to drive the economic engine of the state,” says UConn Associate Vice Provost James Lowe, who is executive director of the UConn Center for Career Development.

UConn Center for Career Development is a popular destination for students

The data comes from the annual Undergraduate First Destination Survey, in which UConn participates along with most other colleges and universities through National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey protocols.

The survey information and other details – including top employers of UConn graduates, their average starting salaries, employment locations and other details – can be found on the UConn Center for Career Development’s website, including a tool to find specific information by academic major and other attributes.

UConn’s role in supporting Connecticut’s economy is clear in the employment data, which shows that the Career Center held about 850 meetings with mostly in-state employers interested in hiring UConn graduates. About 650 employers – again, predominantly from Connecticut – also attended UConn career fairs last year to meet with potential interns and full-time employees.

Also, about 80% of the recent UConn graduates reported participating in an experiential learning opportunity – such as internship or co-op positions – during their undergraduate careers. Those students were 16% more likely to have a job or other outcome of their choosing at the six-month mark.

UConn career consultants also work with students to help them articulate the skills they learned in part-time jobs on campus or elsewhere, and to show potential employers how that real-world experience boosts their qualifications for jobs.

The UConn Center for Career Development has proven to be a popular destination for many students throughout their UConn careers, not only as they look ahead to graduation and launching their careers.

About 83% of the recent graduates reported using the center’s services, compared with an average of 54% of undergraduates at other institutions. Those interactions range from one-on-one sessions to participating in career-related presentations, attending career fairs, using resources from the center’s website, and many others.

“Students are recognizing the importance of engaging with employers and we continue to support that by connecting them with each other,” Lowe says.

It paid off for them: The recent graduates who used the center’s services while at UConn were earning about $4,000 more annually in their jobs than those who didn’t.

‘Career Champions’ help students determine and reach goals

Having a strong career development program also benefits universities, including UConn, by boosting the perception of their alumni, according to a new survey. It found that 10 years after graduation, those who had received career support while in college were 2.8 times more likely to report that their degree was worth the price.

The value of strong career services on campuses is also underscored by several other studies, and was highlighted in a Forbes article that said career services are poised to become as central to student success as an institution’s curriculum.

That’s both because employers so strongly value experience when making hiring decisions, and because students who feel that their schools are invested in their success tend to remain enrolled through graduation and engaged as alumni.

In fact, many of the corporate recruiters and mentors who participate in career fairs and other events coordinated by the UConn Center for Career Development are UConn alumni.

Many of them are also among the nearly 800 people trained as “Career Champions” throughout UConn Nation – including faculty, staff, alumni, employers, and others – who can help students with determining and reaching their goals.

That’s the largest program of its kind in the nation, Lowe says, and 20% of the participants are located at UConn’s regional campuses in Hartford, Stamford, Avery Point, and Waterbury to help students at those locations.

In fact, career support at the regional campuses has grown significantly in recent years, with thousands of students – about 70% of the population as a whole — attending career fairs, one-on-one career coaching, career readiness programs, and other services.

Regional campus graduates were more likely to move directly into jobs than Storrs-based students within six months of receiving their diplomas.

About 91% of the December 2022 and May 2023 regional campus graduates had positive outcomes within six months, including 67% who were working, 23% in graduate programs, and the rest in volunteer service or other pursuits of their choosing.

Some of the top employers of the graduates included Synchrony, a financial services firm based in Stamford that has an active pipeline in which most of its UConn interns are offered jobs upon graduation; Cigna, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Raytheon, The Hartford, Travelers, and many others.

Strong outcomes for graduate students as well as undergrads

The UConn Center for Career Development has also strengthened its focus on the unique needs of graduate students, students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and the growing number of students seeking careers in sustainability fields.

According to the new data, UConn graduate students also had strong outcomes within six months of receiving their advanced degrees.

About 77% were in pursuits of their choosing, including 72% who hailed from Connecticut and remained in the state for full-time jobs, an increase of 6% from last year. Another 18% had come to Connecticut from other states, but stayed here after graduation for jobs.

The UConn Center for Career Development has also bolstered its work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. It included expanding its DEIJ committee and customizing almost 90 programs featuring the unique career-related needs of specific affinity communities.

The center also hired a team of 12 current students to serve as career interns and ambassadors to strengthen relationships with student affinity groups.

“Students will listen to other students,” Lowe says. “We’re training the students to bring that message out and talk with others about the importance of engaging in career readiness.”

To help students interested in careers in the sustainability sector, the center also launched a specialized career community in fall 2023 to guide students toward work in conservation, energy, and related sustainability fields.

It includes job market insights, connections with mentors and professional organizations, partnering with Universitas 21 on sustainability-focused micro-internships with 70 students engaged over two years with students from other institutions worldwide.

“This gives a lot of depth, breadth, and exposure to these fields for our students,” Lowe says.

While the new figures show that 92% of the most recent UConn graduates had successful outcomes within six months – jobs, graduate school, military service, or volunteerism – that does not necessarily mean that all of the other 8% were still seeking opportunities.

That population also includes people who may have been pursuing certifications or credentials needed for their specific career paths, Lowe says.