January 27, 2011


Survey shows tough job market for grads

Only one-third of ’09 SUNY Cortland graduates sampled found a job in their fields

SurveyBob Ellis/staff photographer
Michele Baran, left, SUNY Cortland’s Career Services assistant director, helps Sarah Gridley, a junior business economics major from Corning, Wednesday in the career services office.

Staff Reporter

SUNY Cortland’s 2009 graduates headed for graduate school or took any job they could, with a lower number than usual finding work in fields related to their majors.
The college Office of Career Services’ annual survey showed that graduates who found jobs in their fields fell to 34 percent, from 40 percent in 2008 and a high of 55 percent in 2005, said John Shirley, director of career services.
At the same time, they did not blame it on their college. An overall 83 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their SUNY Cortland academic experience.
The career results were comparable to what other college across the nation reported, Shirley told the College Council in a Monday presentation.
“We expected really bad results from the last two years because of the economy,” he said.
Shirley discussed the findings from a survey of May, August and December 2009 graduates, in his presentation and an interview Tuesday. He said the 2010 survey results will be available after over a year.
Graduates are surveyed every year, with questions about their satisfaction with the college asked at commencement rehearsal and follow-up questions asked via online survey.
The response rate for questions about the college itself was 70 percent, with 795 out of 1,137 graduates, down from 90 percent a few years ago. Shirley said that is still a strong sample.
A breakdown of graduates who found jobs shows 34 percent found employment in their major field, 18 percent simply employed and looking in their field, 7 percent employed in an unrelated field by choice, 10 percent unemployed and seeking work, and 1 percent unemployed and not seeking a job.
The other 31 percent enrolled in graduate school.
Shirley said the 2009 graduates seem to be struggling in their career paths behind the 2010 graduates, from what he has heard so far.
“It’s possible the 2009 graduates went home, went back into summer jobs they’d had before and went into cruise control for now,” he said.
Shirley said those enrolled in graduate school chose that path for two main reasons: to get certifications, such as a master’s degree related to teaching, rather than putting it off; and to take shelter from the poor job market.
The survey said 90 percent of the graduates remained in New York state for employment.
The average full-time starting salary was $31,517.
The average debt related to their education was $28,177, with 77 percent saying they had student loans to repay.
Shirley said SUNY Cortland’s survey is one of the few nationwide that asks students how satisfied they were with their academic experience, with room for comments.
About 25 percent said they were very satisfied and 58 percent said they were satisfied with their overall academic experience.
For faculty in their major, 40 percent were very satisfied and 47 percent were satisfied. For faculty outside their major, 16 percent were very satisfied and 46 percent were satisfied.
Advising by faculty varied more, with 32 percent saying they were satisfied and 36 percent saying they were satisfied. Neutral responses numbered 19 percent while dissatisfied accounted for 10 percent and very dissatisfied were at 4 percent.
The “very dissatisfied” category was at 1 percent for most survey areas.
Graduates were less happy with preparation for further education, with 23 percent saying they were very satisfied, 41 percent satisfied, 26 percent neutral, 7 percent dissatisfied and 4 percent very dissatisfied.
About 83 percent of the graduates responded to questions about experiential learning — internships, student teaching or study abroad.
The graduates who were very satisfied or satisfied with their internships stood at 81 percent while in student teaching, 56 percent were very satisfied and 31 percent were satisfied.
Between 562 and 567 respondents rated the skills they had learned: communication, leadership, problem solving, team working, technology, time management and writing.
In leadership skills, 26 percent said their skills developed extensively, 42 percent said moderately and 22 percent said somewhat. The percentages for problem solving skills were 22 percent extensive, 53 percent moderate and 21 percent somewhat.
All of the skills rated at under 30 percent for extensive development.


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