Posted August 23, 2022

Career Center’s First Destination Survey for recent graduates shows promising results

Gathering quality survey results helps the university understand where students land post-graduation.

Image of a Temple graduate in their cap.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
First Destination Survey results are finding that Temple graduates are having success landing jobs in their fields of study.

Each year, Temple’s Career Center administers the First Destination Survey to gather information about how the university’s graduates fare in their careers shortly after graduation. Recently, the Career Center has seen an increase in survey data collection, and the results are showing that Temple graduates are successfully landing jobs in their fields of study.

The survey is administered by colleges across the country in accordance with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) guidelines, and its results are commonly used for college and university rankings such as U.S. News & World Reports and BestColleges.

The survey collects information about whether or not graduates have found employment, volunteer or fellowship opportunities, or whether they are continuing their education or pursuing military service. It also tracks information about where graduates are working and for what company, their salary and their job function.

Collecting quality survey results helps Temple University understand the value of the education it provides to students, which is why the Career Center has been working to make data collection more efficient and effective.

According to Kristen Gallo, executive director of career services, the Career Center’s efforts have allowed Temple to outpace the national average when it comes to survey results in recent years.

“We’ve been seeing that our knowledge rate, which is the overall number or percentage of students that we have information about, is going up through pandemic years,” said Gallo, who started in her role in March 2020.

Temple’s knowledge rate for the Class of 2020 rose a little more than a percentage point. While that increase may not sound like much, Gallo pointed out that the national average dropped 8% for that same graduating class. Temple’s knowledge rate of just under 70% for the Class of 2020 is more than 10 percentage points higher than the national average (58%) and is more than 15 percentage points higher than the national average for public universities (53%). The university’s knowledge rate continued to grow for the Class of 2021, which saw an increase of 1.55% over the Class of 2020.

Gallo credits the recent success in data collection to a variety of changes in the way the university administers its survey, including marketing and budget-saving efforts.

These changes included shifting from a calling campaign to a cheaper and more successful texting campaign reminding graduates to complete the survey, an internet search scraping campaign to gain data from places like LinkedIn, and collaborating with Temple’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to incorporate National Student Clearinghouse data, which more accurately tracks information about students continuing their education. The Career Center also incentivizes graduates to complete the survey by offering them a chance to win AirPods, iPads and Phillies tickets.

The Career Center is continuing to expand its efforts to increase data collection. For the Class of 2023, Gallo says the center has  been consulting more closely with the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment on best practices and survey design. It also plans on giving individual schools and colleges greater ability to offer more robust and customized messaging to market the survey to graduates. 

“We want to ensure that the colleges and schools have as much opportunity as possible for customizing their messaging and for outreach to their graduates, because while we are the central office administering the survey, the ability for colleges and schools to connect with their students and graduates is core for us,” Gallo said, adding that students are more likely to respond to messaging that comes from someone within their school, who they may already be familiar with.

Corinne Snell, assistant dean of student professional development at the Fox School of Business, has been involved with career outcome data collection efforts at Fox for nearly two decades. Like Gallo, she finds that her office’s ability to directly connect with students year-round is the key to collecting the best data.

“Our strategy for the last 19 years has been to collect data all year long,” Snell said. “We’re constantly doing outreach that is directly from our office, whether that be email, social media or even going directly into classrooms.”

An announcement about the survey was even included in Temple’s commencement festivities for the first time ever in 2022, and senior leadership became active in communicating the importance of the survey to soon-to-be graduates.

“For the first time in our memory a universitywide email about the survey went out to the May graduating class from Provost Gregory N. Mandel this year,” Gallo said. “To have a message come centrally from the provost, that’s huge, and we’re really excited.”

The survey results are just as exciting as the increasing knowledge rates.

By and large, Temple graduates are finding work in their desired field or continuing their studies. More than 51% of undergraduate respondents from the Class of 2021 indicated that they are employed full time in their industry of choice, with 18% of undergraduate respondents choosing to continue their education. Nearly 44% of graduate and undergraduate survey respondents had secured employment before graduating.

Temple graduates are staying in the region as well: 63% of employed survey respondents are working in Pennsylvania, including roughly 42% of respondents who have found employment in Philadelphia.

The most popular industry for graduates of all degree levels for the Class of 2021 was healthcare, where just under 13% of respondents are working. The next most popular employment fields for graduates were public relations and marketing (6.37%) and K-12 education (5.47%). The top employers for Temple’s Class of 2021 were the School District of Philadelphia, Vanguard, SEI, Amazon and Lockheed Martin.

Temple University remains the most popular choice of graduate school for Class of 2021 graduates looking to continue their education, ahead of Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.