Where do University of Alabama graduates go?

Heather Gann, Contributing Writer

The weekend of May 6 marked the commencement of more than 6,000 University of Alabama students, as announced by University President Stuart Bell in a campus wide email on May 2. 

According to the results of the First Destination Survey completed by the UA Career Center in spring 2021, 60% of UA graduates found full or part time employment within six months of obtaining their degree, with an additional 30% of graduates deciding to attend postgraduate or professional school.

“At our career center, we have several satellite offices to be accessible to consult with students for help with job search strategies and interview strategies,” said Career Center interim director Schernavia M. Hall. “We have consultants in several different places and all sorts of different resources so we try to meet students where they are.”

The survey also found that the average starting salary for UA graduates in 2021 was $54,290, almost twice as much as the Alabama state average salary of $27,062. The No. 1 employment destination for graduates was Alabama, with Georgia and Texas following in second and third. Hall said that the high number of students who choose to stay in the area do so because of jobs offered by the University and positions throughout Alabama at companies with which the Career Center partners to fill.

“I chose to stay in Alabama for a ton of reasons. It’s close to my family and loved ones and the cost of living isn’t too high,” said 2021 UA graduate Tess Hensley. “Huntsville specifically gives you the best of both worlds: a southern city and tons of growth and development.”

Many recent graduates said that post-pandemic transitions to more remotely accessible working environments have made stressful decisions like moving across the country easier to negotiate and postpone until they are more financially stable.

Grace Schepis, a former staff reporter for The Crimson White who graduated in spring 2022, spoke on the benefits of remote work for her first year in her post-graduation position with Washington D.C. law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.

“Even though it is a pretty big and spread out office, a lot of the other employees are a bit older and a little bit more weary about gathering in person still,” said Schepis. “Even though vaccinations are required, they will only meet when necessary and can meet with most clients via Zoom. I think everyone appreciates the flexibility, especially when a lot of our work can be done at home.

Schepis added that the ability to work virtually for a year made the position more attractive as it gave her more time to find housing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic also led to the “Great Resignation,” as employees across the country left their jobs, citing pandemic conditions as the cause. Now, recent graduates feel more confident pursuing better benefits and working conditions in their future careers.

“I feel like employers are realizing they have to treat us like people, not just workers in a machine,” said Branden Parker, a 2022 graduate of The University of Alabama School of Music. “The workers have a lot of the power now because they need us more than we need them.”