2020 UD grads thrive despite COVID-19

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Photo courtesy of the University of Dallas

According to the University of Dallas Office of Career Services, 97.9% of 2020 graduates are employed or were engaged in professional experiences within six months of graduating. 56.79% of the 2020 graduates are employed, while 36.24% are continuing their education. The remaining 4% are volunteering, serving in the military, or are still looking for a job. 

Compared to previous years, the class of 2020’s performance is on track with UD’s standard. 

In 2019, 98% of the graduates were employed in the workforce or seeking a higher education within 6 months of graduation. Of that 98%, 69.4% were employed in some capacity and 27.8% were in graduate school. The class of 2020 has a higher percentage of students in graduate school and a lower percentage in the workforce. 

“Our overall placement rate—the percentage of graduates, six months after commencement, who are either employed or continuing their education—is always quite high,” President Thomas Hibbs wrote in a Jan. 24 statement.

According to UD’s website, in the past five years over 95% of graduates in any given class have been either employed or pursuing further education. Since 2014, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of graduates who attend graduate school over entering the workforce, starting at 21.46% in 2014 and growing to nearly 40% in 2020. 

Conversely, the percentage of graduates who entered the workforce has gone down from 72% in 2014 to approximately 60% in 2020. 

Even with the ongoing pandemic, UD’s high placement rates after graduation have remained constant.

In a text exchange, Katie Groves, a pastoral ministry major from the class of 2020, commented that she still managed to find an opportunity to pursue further education even though she graduated during the worst of the lockdowns.

“I’m part of the Echo graduate program through Notre Dame. I am placed in the Diocese of St. Petersburg getting practical ministry experience while I also take classes to receive a Masters in Theology.” Groves wrote

Groves’ program covers her housing costs and provides a stipend. 

Ella Sullivan, politics major from class of 2020, changed her expectations on the job front. 

“Finding a job during a pandemic required a major adjustment of expectations, and an openness to whatever was available. So many places had hiring freezes, and exponentially more people were competing for any jobs that were available, whether it was other graduates or seasoned professionals who were out of work.” Sullivan wrote in a text message. 

The pandemic changed the job market. 

“Most people I am close with from my class ended up doing pandemic related work for a while, whether that be working for VSO, Catholic Charities as a pandemic-specific case manager, or (what I did) working as a Pandemic Pod teacher. Very few of us are in the career path we planned on pursuing after graduation, specifically because of the pandemic. My summer program, job, and internship were all cancelled.” Sullivan wrote. 

Sullivan, like many during the pandemic, adapted to her situation. 

“I took up doordashing to make some cash over the summer and taught 4 kindergarteners who were doing at-home learning this fall.” 

“When they all went back to school I accepted an internship at the think tank I was supposed to intern at in the summer of 2020. Many of my friends are teaching because those were the jobs available, others are working at restaurants and waiting for the job market to improve. As 2020 grads, we had to let go of many of our expectations and be open to whatever employment opportunities were available, even if they weren’t as glamorous, well paying, or prestigious as our pre-pandemic options.” Sullivan wrote. 

Sullivan is still hopeful and has gratitude for tools she received through her UD education. 

“Once the job market does improve, I will be competing against 2020 and 2021 graduates for an entry level position, and my job hunt will be more arduous than I anticipated as an undergrad. That being said, I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to receive a UD education and feel well prepared to begin my search―even if it was set back a bit by the pandemic.” Sullivan wrote. 

In his statement, Hibbs reflected on why he believes graduates continue to succeed:  “The UD education is rare and remarkably valuable—dare I add attractive, even beautiful?”

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