Students explore variety of locations, job opportunities following graduation
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 08:10
With the Career Fair a distant memory and senior degree sheets due in just a few short weeks, one question gnaws inexorably in the minds of every senior: “Where do I go from here?” The gamut of possible academic and professional options can be daunting — master’s programs, law or medical schools, entry−level careers and internships — and factoring location into the mix ratchets up the indecision.
Not surprisingly, a popular option for graduating seniors is to stay right where they’ve been, or at least close by. Jeffrey Prescott (E ’12) is settling into his entry−level position in the Edison Engineering Development Program with GE Aviation in Lynn, Mass. after two successful summer internships with the company.
“The program will rotate me to different jobs while I take classes to get a Master’s,” Prescott said. “My current job title is a design engineer for a next−generation military helicopter engine ... and I will rotate through three different 12−month jobs.”
Megan O’Toole (LA ’12), who worked for the Tufts Parents Program during her undergraduate career, preferred a career on the Hill. She began a job with Tufts Alumni Relations just weeks after her graduation.
“I just had a great experience at Tufts, so I went through the interview process with Alumni Relations and everyone in that office is fantastic,” she said. “It is a perfect, in my eyes, starting job, a great transition from leaving college to going into the working world.”
In addition to working as an Alumni Relations assistant, O’Toole is planning to begin graduate studies at Tufts in the spring.
Becoming a “Double Jumbo” is a common way for undergraduates to stay on campus after receiving their Bachelor’s degrees.
Eric Fournier (E ’11), who is a second−year Masters student, emphasized that the logic behind choosing to undertake graduate study at Tufts was his confidence in knowing that he would experience a smooth transition.
“The biggest motivating factor for me to stay here was that I already knew my advisor. I could stay working with the same advisor that I did as an undergrad and that I did research with as an undergrad,” he said. “That was a huge plus for me.”
Tufts Career Center Director Jean Papalia told the Daily in an email that 38 graduates from the Class of 2012 reported that they would be attending one of Tufts’ graduate programs this fall, making Tufts the most popular graduate school of choice for undergraduates.
The breakdown of senior enrollment includes nineteen students in the Graduate School for Arts, Science and Engineering, nine in Tufts Medical School and five in the School of Dental Medicine, Papalia said.
While some remain close to campus, other undergraduates choose to establish careers in the Greater Boston area, staying in a familiar location.
According to Papalia, Boston ranks first in the “post−graduate plans” survey question concerning location preferences. While responses including the Southwest and outside of the U.S. received 15 percent and 22 percent respectively, 51 percent of seniors responded that they hope to live in Boston after graduation.
Papalia added that while the Career Center reaches out to employers and alumni across the country, the largest contingent of professional contacts is located within the state of Massachusetts.
“Of the 4,500 jobs and internships which we posted last year in Jumbo Jobs, [only] 1,500 of them were from out of state,” she said.
The high proportion of Boston hires can be at least partially explained by the extensive Tufts alumni network throughout Boston. According to Executive Director of Alumni Relations Timothy Brooks, 28,000 alumni live in the Boston area.
“I think it is safe to say that with a lot of seniors, when they graduate, the prospect of staying in the Boston area is a good one,” he said. “There is a wealth of opportunity in terms of graduate school, and Boston is an attractive city.”
Students such as Prescott and O’Toole who have taken part in internships, volunteer experiences or part−time jobs while attending Tufts, often have a better chance of being hired for full−time positions after graduation.
“Students who pursue internships and who have some sort of experience are setting themselves up for better job prospects in the Boston area,” Brooks said.
Not all Tufts graduates, though, choose to stay so close to their alma mater. While some choose to return to locations closer to their hometowns, others look for an entirely new experience.
Senior Karl Gaebler, originally from Wisconsin, came to Tufts to experience New England, a region vastly different from that of the Midwest and would like to continue expanding his repertoire.
“I would rather go to someplace else for graduate school,” he said. “I think it would be interesting and worthwhile to see a different program at a different school. I know Tufts culture and would want to experience another educational culture.”
Senior Emily Weiss also sees herself in a new place after receiving her degree this May.
“I’m looking at jobs and graduate schools in places where I can use the knowledge that I learned here,” she said. “If I could pick anywhere, I would be in East Africa working for an NGO or non−profit that is concerned with international development.”
Location, though, is not always the highest priority for seniors during their career search.
The current state of the job market has led many students to place an emphasis on taking advantage of available opportunities.
Gaebler stressed that he is willing to put preferences aside when it comes to establishing his career.
“My top priority is being able to get a job ... I’m not too concerned where it is,” he said. “I’m not going to turn down a job because of location. You have to follow your opportunities.”