Despite worries of scant employment opportunities for recent graduates, almost three-quarters of the Class of 2010 held paying jobs one year after graduation. It's unclear how this compares to previous years, as the College only recently began thoroughly tracking post-graduate activities.
The vast majority of 2010 graduates—72 percent—are currently in paid employment, according to a survey conducted one year after graduation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for bachelor's degree holders between ages 20 and 24 was 7.7 percent as of November 2011. The unemployment rate for Bowdoin grads is nearly half that, with only 4 percent of 2010 graduates still seeking employment after one year.
Education-related occupations, which include teaching, high school coaching, and collegiate admissions counseling, are the most common among those employed.
These jobs represent the largest segment of employed graduates at 27 percent, followed by business (23 percent), finance (12 percent), nonprofits (9 percent), health-related professions (8 percent), and communications (5 percent). The remaining employed alumni are found in the U.S. government, the arts, information services, athletics, law, physical sciences, and engineering.
Recent graduates end up at a mix of hospitals, banks, professional service firms, technology companies, and service-oriented programs. The most common employers of graduates from 2006 through 2010, according to data from the College and LinkedIn, are Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's Hospitals, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, State Street Bank, Teach for America, the Peace Corps, Google, IBM, and Deloitte Consulting.
For 2011 graduates of Middlebury who secured jobs in the spring of their senior year, the distributions are roughly similar to those at Bowdoin. Seventeen percent went into education, 15 percent into finance, and 13 percent into consulting.
At Pomona, the most common landing spots for graduates were education and business, while 15 percent of the Class of 2011 graduates were also planning to go to graduate school.
Of Princeton University's 2010 graduates employed as of July 2010, 35.9 percent were working in finance-related jobs.
While none of these schools tracked the one-year out plans of 2010 graduates and therefore no comparisons can be directly made, the overall trends are worth noting.
The one-year out survey "represents students' first choice after they leave Bowdoin, and provides a complete snapshot of the first destination of Bowdoin students that reflects their initial interest," said Director of Career Planning Tim Diehl. That being said, "We know from experience that the first job opportunity isn't necessarily the start of a career."
Bowdoin chose to conduct the survey a year after graduation because by that time, more students have firmly-set plans.
"We've seen an increase in the number of students who have a plan as they're leaving Bowdoin that includes months of travel or volunteer work," Diehl said. "With the one-year out survey, you're really capturing people coming out of that experience."
After one year, the amount of people traveling was down to 1 percent.
Another reason the graduated class was asked about its plans a year later was because different organizations have varying timelines for when they open positions and hire. People in research positions usually announce that they are leaving for medical school in late winter so those science jobs will concurrently open up, whereas opportunities to apply for education positions often only become available by the summer.
Diehl also pointed out the different ways that employers advertise job openings to Bowdoin students.
"There's a great variance between the way Deloitte will recruit and the way that Mass. General Hospital will recruit," Diehl said.
Deloitte Consulting conducts a formal recruiting program for business analyst positions starting in the fall with an information session, and usually makes full-time hiring decisions before Thanksgiving. Bowdoin alumni at Deloitte visit several times throughout the year to recruit for the firm.
At Mass. General Hospital, like other major medical research centers, specific research labs contact Bowdoin starting in the winter and into the summer to connect with and find applicants. Depending on the turnaround of their research positions and the amount of jobs available, the number of people hired varies. Candidates for positions are often contacted by Bowdoin alumni and asked to interview on-site in Boston.
In contrast, Teach for America's recruiting process begins early in the fall semester and continues into the spring, with multiple application deadlines throughout the period. The organization selects promising students early on, and schedules regular campus visits for information sessions and informal interviews.
In recent years especially, internships have become important stepping stones toward finding paid employment.
"Now more the case than five years ago, internship experience is a gateway into full-time work," Diehl said.
Graduates who do not immediately go into paid employment pursue a variety of activities. Currently, 16 percent of the Class of 2010 is attending graduate school, 5 percent is involved with a fellowship, and 2 percent has a paid internship.
Of those graduate schools attended by Bowdoin alumni since the Class of 2006, there are many programs represented.
Ivy League universities are the most common destinations for graduate study. However, recent graduates are not as well represented in Ivy League medical and law schools; most of those who enroll in such programs do so at larger schools in the Northeast, including the University of Connecticut, Suffolk University, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts. Diehl suggested that Suffolk's part-time evening program may be appealing to alumni who wish to continue on their careers while earning a law degree.
The Class of 2010 one-year out survey was conducted in conjunction with the New England Consortium on Assessment and Student Learning, comprised of Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury, Smith, Trinity, and Wellesley.
Distributed last summer, the survey was sent to all but 60 or 70 members of the Class of 2010. It had about a 70 percent response rate.
Before the arrival of Becky Brodigan, vice president of institutional planning and assessment, three years ago, Bowdoin did not keep track of post-graduation data in a comprehensive way.
According to Brodigan, the surveys have not been done in past years in part because they are a labor-intensive process that may not initially provide all that much new insight.
"You have to track everyone, design a survey, administer it, and send follow-up emails to people," Brodigan said.
"We are going to try to continue to do this every year, and to try to figure out a way to track down the other students that don't give us their email addresses," added Brodigan. "There are plans to keep tracking the Class of 2010, but it's going to depend on whether or not we can really learn something from it."
Brodigan said that the longitudinal study with peer schools is helpful not just for the school, but also for groups, including the federal government, alumni, and parents of current students, who all want to know what students do after graduation.
"The issue of jobs after Bowdoin is an important issue on the minds of parents, alumni and trustees," wrote President Barry Mills in an email to the Orient. "Students are also obviously focused on this issue too, although this is not an issue I hear so much myself from prospective students."
In the coming months, both the admissions office and the Career Planning Center plan to work on web displays for the post-graduate information, so that families and students can evaluate the power and payoffs of a Bowdoin degree.