Updated WMU post-grad data shows 92 percent find immediate success

by Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

Photo of a WMU intern.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A full 92 percent of Western Michigan University 2015-16 alumni were employed or in graduate school within three months of commencement, new data compiled by campus employment services officials show.

The basic data, presented to the WMU Board of Trustees at its Jan. 24 meeting, shows that for 2015-16, 92 percent of WMU graduates were "actively engaged" in the next steps of their professional development within three months of graduation. Those counted as actively engaged include alumni who were:

  • Employed full time—71 percent
  • In graduate school/continuing education—14 percent
  • Employed part time—6 percent
  • In military service or volunteering full time—1 percent

For those employed, 84 percent were employed in jobs related to their academic discipline, 88 percent were satisfied with their jobs and 76 percent were employed in Michigan. The median salary range for all respondents was in the $40,000 to $45,000 range.

Figures for the 2015-16 year that ended June 30 included responses from a full 75 percent of the year's 5,000-plus graduates. With the high percentage of respondents and the 90-day timeframe reflected in the data, the WMU annual report has emerged as the most comprehensive documentation of postgraduate success found at any Michigan University.

The WMU survey is the product of six years of work by Dr. Ewa Urban, associate director for assessment in WMU's Career and Student Employment Services, who presented the data to WMU trustees. Starting with responses from just 25 percent of graduates in 2009-10, she has built a survey and outreach program that for the most recent report netted responses from 3,766 of the 5,049 students who earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 2015-16. Working with Amy Galick, who is a graduate assistant working on a master's degree in applied mathematics, and data analyst Christopher Shank, Urban says her team was able to make the most recently completed report the most thorough to date.

"Overall, 72 percent of our data in this report was obtained through an online questionnaire, and 28 percent was gathered through LinkedIn or information shared by department chairs, faculty and staff," says Urban.

Additional findings

In addition to active engagement and salaries, the survey results showcase a wealth of additional important information. Findings from the 2015-16 assessment include:

  • WMU grads found employment in 44 other states, but the majority—76 percent—stayed in Michigan.
  • Internships play a critical role in postgraduate employment. Some 80 percent of WMU grads completed an internship or other experiential opportunity while in school.
  • Forty-four percent of alumni were employed after graduation by a pre-graduation employer.
  • Those continuing their education were enrolled at WMU and at 128 other graduate schools around the world, ranging from Harvard and the Boston Conservancy to University College Condone and the University of Australia Melbourne.

The comprehensive data is available online. It is broken out by college and major within colleges and by degree level. The report includes all majors for which sufficient data was collected to be considered valid. Each category includes detailed information on active engagement and salary as well as a sample of the organizations in which graduates in those majors are now employed.

"One purpose of this report is to help students with career exploration," Urban says. "To that end, reports for individual majors and programs include sample job titles and employer names."

The report also lists the top employers of WMU alumni with a bachelor's degree as well as the top employers of those who have earned a graduate degree. Also listed are the top employers with which students held internships or some other type of experiential education.

Employer testimonial

"Having a partner in Western Michigan University has provided Parker Hannifin's Hydraulic Systems Division with energetic, knowledgeable, passionate graduates who enter the workforce ready to contribute to the success of our company," says Christy Martin, HR business partner with Parker Aerospace/Hydraulic Systems Division.

"Graduates of WMU are eager to learn and share their ideas and suggestions to challenge the status quo by offering new and innovative ways of solving problems and working within our culture of continuous improvement.

"WMU professors do an exceptional job of bringing real-world experiences right to the classroom, helping the students to quickly apply their education and talents to Parker upon graduation. We are truly fortunate to hire both interns and graduates from WMU who walk through our doors with an exceptional work ethic, education and enthusiasm so that we may continue to be industry leaders and highly successful in the aerospace industry."

Full report

To download the entire report, visit wmich.edu/career/planning. For more information about the report, contact Dr. Ewa Urban at ewa.urban@wmich.edu.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.