Baylor Career Center Reports Unexpected Positive Results for Job-seeking Graduates During COVID-19
Baylor Career Center celebrates student placement and success rates
By Kaitlyn Rieper, marketing specialist, Baylor Marketing and Brand Strategy
WACO, Texas (April 13, 2021) – Baylor University’s Career Center reports a surprising increase in job placement of graduating Baylor University students in the spring of 2020 compared to spring 2019, despite an anticipated decrease due to the effect of COVID-19.
To measure the impact of COVID on career support, the Career Center recently compared data from the academic terms of 2019 and 2020. The results showed an increase in placement — the percent of students who have accepted a job offer — between spring 2019 and spring 2020. At 180 days post-graduation, the spring 2020 placement rate was 80%, compared to 76% for spring 2019.
Similarly, the percentage of success —the placement rate plus students pursuing military service, graduate school, volunteer programs or part-time employment — increased to 85% from 84%. The Career Center gathered this data through diligent efforts to contact all graduating students to determine their post-graduation plans.
The pandemic has created apprehension among job seekers. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2021 Job Outlook Survey showed that 31% of employer respondents expected a decrease in college hiring in 2021, compared to an expected 6% decrease by respondents in the 2020 survey. However, the Career Center has remained successful by adapting to the job market shifts and focusing on fields that are not seeing a decrease in hiring.
“There is absolutely a job market shift with respect to college hiring of interns and full-time employment. But Baylor University has not seen this negative level of impact because of the quality of our students and the efforts of the Career Center,” said Ken Buckley, assistant vice provost for the Baylor Career Center. “When COVID first hit, our Career Center focused on engaging with every student through active career support and connecting them to opportunities. In addition, the Career Center reached out to all of our employers to maintain the relationships during these uncertain times.
“While many other universities were in a wait-and-see mode, we were aggressively supporting our students and connecting them to opportunities,” he said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Career Center had to adjust quickly from face-to-face appointments and recruitment activities to a fully virtual environment. To ensure employers remained connected to Baylor and recruited Baylor students, the Career Center began actively pursuing new employer relationships and contacted more than 3,500 employers in July 2020 alone. This major effort combined with maintaining existing employer relationships paid off tremendously, Buckley said.
“We saw a record 97% increase in employer activities in fall 2020 over fall 2019,” he said. “In addition to more events, we have seen an increase in student career coaching appointments. These efforts, relationships and communications have resulted in the ability to guide students toward fields and positions that they may not have previously considered.”
Sandra Miruka, a spring 2020 Baylor graduate, used Career Center resources when the pandemic led to an unexpected change in her post-graduation plans. Now happily employed as a consultant at CGI Inc., an information technology consulting center, she is thankful to have had encouragement and support through a Career Center career success professional.
“My career goals prior to the pandemic were to work in data analytics. I secured an offer as a consultant to do just that; however, that offer was rescinded due to the pandemic,” Miruka said. “This worried me because I worked hard to get that offer and other companies in that industry were doing the same. My career goals shifted, and I applied to any and all jobs that I had the skill set for, regardless of my thoughts on the company. Luckily, I had Amy Rylander, assistant director of Baylor University Career Center, to walk alongside me in job searching and interview preparation. All in all, I do not know how I would have gotten through the job search, especially in the pandemic, without the Career Center.”
“I think I can speak for the entire department when I say that student success is our number one goal and shared passion. We truly love working with Baylor students and helping them find the confidence in themselves as they recognize their own skills and worth,” Rylander said. “When I work with a specific student, I like to get to know who they are and what they are hoping to find in a career. I encourage them to think beyond the imagined constraints of their major. There is nothing better than hearing from a student that their interview went great, that they are deciding between multiple offers and that are really proud of their success.”
Buckley acknowledged that COVID did lead to fewer internships and full-time jobs posted through Handshake, a career network and recruiting platform for college students and recent alumni. However, there were still enough listings to support the student volume the Career Center assists. For students who are thinking about their careers, Buckley suggests taking advantage of the resources the Career Center has to offer, tackling the job search head on and knowing your worth.
“Preparation, networking and relationship building are the key,” Buckley said. “Students who are better prepared for the job market and actively take ownership of their career development have a significant advantage during the downturn. Employers are looking to recruit high-caliber students and come to Baylor because of the exceptional reputation and combination of intelligence, strong work ethic and a Christian heart that Baylor students exemplify.”
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 19,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.