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Senior Survey Outlines Next Steps for Class of 2019

Diploma in hands of student

Seventy percent of students surveyed went straight into the workforce and 21 percent went to graduate school.

Whether they are designing software for Google, pursuing a master’s in architecture at MIT, or tutoring underserved students for City Year Los Angeles, the members of the Class of 2019 are already making waves in their communities and around the world.

They continue to draw the attention⁠—and kudos⁠—of top employers and graduate programs.

“They’re eager to hire and admit Swarthmore students due to the intellectual curiosity, outstanding work ethic, creativity, and diverse perspectives they bring to making a difference in their workplaces and the world,” 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 of recent College graduates. With data from 75 percent of this May’s graduating class, it brims with insights.

Seventy percent of those surveyed went straight into the workforce, stating their top career paths as research (26 percent), technology/engineering (24 percent, up from 18 percent last year), consulting (14 percent), and finance/business (11 percent).

“I’ll get to dip a toe in design, engineering, and business,” says Guinevere Mesh ’19, product specialist at Qualtrics, “and hopefully that will illuminate where I see myself landing in the future.”

Other members of the class have embarked on careers in education/teaching, nonprofits and advocacy, law, policy/politics, and communications/media.

“I’m looking forward to working on a team of people who have the same goal: to support disenfranchised students who deserve to succeed and feel at home in academic spaces,” says Tiauna Lewis ’19, who majored in history and is a college coach for AmeriCorps College Possible.

Adds Gilbert Orbea ’19, an honors economics and political science grad who is a legal assistant with Democracy Forward: “I’m looking forward to working on developing skills in the workplace that are different from the skills I’ve gotten in academic settings.”

In addition,  21 percent of students surveyed are now pursuing graduate studies. That’s the same percentage as last year, but up five points from 2017. Among the more popular fields of study are math and physical sciences (34 percent), humanities (27 percent), engineering (19 percent), life sciences (10 percent), and social sciences (10 percent).

The remaining nine percent of graduates are either undecided or undertaking fellowships (including the Fulbright), further undergraduate studies, or travel. 

Additional self-reported data from 298 members of the Class of 2019:

  • Sixty-eight percent seeking employment had secured jobs before graduation.
  • The top geographic locations for grads to begin their careers are New York City (19 percent), Philadelphia (17 percent), Washington, D.C. (14 percent), Northern California (10 percent), Boston (nine percent), and international (five percent).
  • Eighty-four percent plan to enroll in graduate or professional school within five years.
  • Sixty-nine percent completed at least one internship prior to graduation (46% with nonprofits, 42% with for-profits, and 12% with government agencies).
  • Forty percent completed at least one externship prior to graduation.

“The feedback we receive from employers speaks eloquently to the strengths of Swarthmore students," Burkett says, "and their professional preparation for life after Swarthmore."

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