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Senior Survey Outlines Next Steps for Class of 2018

A hand holding a diploma at Commencement 2018

Eighty-one percent of the Class of 2018 plan to enroll in graduate or professional school within five years.

Oh, the places they’ve gone—already.

From developing software at Google, performing biochem research at the National Institutes of Health, pursuing a Ph.D. in ancient history at the University of Pennsylvania, and teaching English in Japan, the Class of 2018 has wasted little time in making its mark.

“Each year, Swarthmore graduates go on to an array of experiences and opportunities, ranging from public service to consulting, and this year is no exception,” says Nancy Burkett, director of Career Services, which recently compiled this year’s Senior Survey.

The annual self-reported survey outlines the next steps and future plans for recent College graduates. With data from 286 of May’s 419 graduates, it tells a compelling story.

Seventy percent of those surveyed went straight into the workforce, and within that group there was a spike in interest in tech careers. Graduates primarily joined up with titans like Salesforce, Amazon, and Google (which, now with 71 alums, is the top employer of Swarthmore grads).

Other sought-after sectors this year included finance, scientific research, economic and/or policy research, consulting, and law.

“I’m looking forward to doing meaningful and substantial work and getting valuable experience before law school ... while also getting to wear jeans Monday through Friday, unless I meet with a client or go to court,” says Clare Perez ’18, a political science grad who is now a False Claims Act analyst for Goldberg Kohn.

“I’m really excited to begin my career at a firm that values intense intellectual curiosity of the kind that Swarthmore has so deeply ingrained in me over the past four years," adds Ridah Hassan ’18, an honors economics and religion grad who now analyzes business development for AQR Capital Management.

Despite a robust employment outlook for Swarthmore grads, Burkett notes, the survey shows “an interesting uptick” in students going straight to graduate studies—21 percent, up five points from last year. Among the grad programs to gain in popularity are aeronautics and astronautics, computer science, engineering, physics, statistics, and data science.

The remaining nine percent of grads are either undecided or undertaking fellowships (including the Fulbright), further undergraduate studies, or travel. Among them: Ryan Kennedy ’18, a political science and economics grad who is serving the Peace Corps in Togo.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people, learn about a new culture, and share my experiences with people unfamiliar with the U.S.,” he says.

Additional self-reported data from 68 percent of the Class of 2018: 

  • Sixty-two percent of grads entered the for-profit sector—a 25 percentage-point jump since 2011.
  • Thirty-one percent pursued nonprofit employment, and seven percent government work.
  • Eighty-one percent plan to enroll in graduate or professional school within five years.
  • Twenty-five grads went into software engineering or development, including a theater major.
  • Sixty-nine percent completed at least one internship prior to graduation (44 percent with nonprofits, 44 percent with for-profits, and 12 percent with government agencies).
  • Forty-two percent completed at least one externship prior to graduation.

Burkett extends its thanks to all the alumni and parents who share internship and job opportunities with the office, as it’s often "through their support that our students have the opportunity to pursue meaningful postgrad careers.”

“I have just been amazed by how strong our alumni community is,” adds Peiwen Zhang ’18, an honors economics and mathematics graduate who is now a global markets analyst at Nomura. “People are always happy to help.”

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