With high inflation, failing banks and rounds of layoffs across industries, many colleges and universities may be concerned about what kind of job market their graduating students will face. By leveraging a strong network of alumni and employers over the past four years – including during the pandemic – Villanova University managed an impressive placement rate among its graduates, and Associate Vice Provost Kevin Grubb doesn’t believe that’s going to change despite the currently bleak economic forecast. In fact, he foresees “strength and optimism” in the entry-level market.
By his account of data and records from Villanova’s Career Center, there were 22,806 full-time job postings between Jan. 1 and March 14 of this year and a 14% uptick in internship opportunities at 10,195. Comparatively, the school only graduates 1,500 or so students with a bachelor’s degree every year, signifying a significant surplus in potential career opportunities per student.
“The entry-level hiring market is not really as affected the same way as other segments of industries and levels of career,” says Grubb. “There’s still really strong demand in the early talent market at this point, so I’m optimistic about what will continue to happen for our class of 2023.”
While most industries still reeled from the pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year, Villanova’s graduating class of 2022 was in a great place. More than 70% of Villanova’s 2022 graduates gained employment at an average salary of $71,363, according to the school’s undergraduate career outcomes website. Another 21.1% sought further education, which led to a 98.9% graduate placement rate.
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While Grubb does acknowledge that full-time job postings are down 7% this year compared to last year, he is confident in the pipelines that Villanova University has built with employers to maximize engagement among them and students. Villanova’s industry advising team builds specific employer and alumni relationships with the school based on students’ career interests.
“The important thing is keeping our networks fresh, so when we’re not receiving a lot of inbound calls or leads, we are structured in a way where we can get outbound and seek out our key alumni, employer recruiting contacts to figure out what’s happening, when might it be happening, how can we communicate it, what’s realistic?” says Grubb.
These healthy streams of communication between students, the career center and employers across different industries help everyone stay in the loop with where career interest lies and where those opportunities are present. This ensures Villanova’s Career Center can “navigate whatever waters come.”
Villanova has recently identified a decrease in full-time job openings in life sciences, biotech, internet, software, and financial services. The Career Center’s granular attention to the varying trends across different industries ensures that Career Center places its students in front of employers and alumni in those fields so that they are top of mind when the pendulum swings in their favor.
In order to bridge the gap between student interest in biotech and a lack of career opportunities in this field for undergraduates, Villanova created a biotech bootcamp programmed by the school’s alumni in partnership with school faculty, bridging “theory and practice” to create a curriculum that exposes its students to their curriculum’s real-world application.
“If there’s high interest from students and we don’t see enough interest on the employer side, we ask ‘Why? Is it because there’s not a strong pipeline from undergrad recruiting into that? Can we make sure there’s more connectivity in that space?'” says Grubb. “We look based on how that industry functions, because that industry functions differently than the biotech industry, which is different than the nonprofit sector, which is different than the advertising industry.”