GW is mapping out where alumni work.
GW created a database, which went live last month, to tie together employment surveys of graduating classes to show where alumni find jobs. Officials said the tool will make it easier for students to locate recent alumni and show current and prospective students where they could work after going to GW.
The website, called “First Destination Visualization,” breaks up information by location, employer and sector. Users can also search for jobs in the system based on major and school and see graphs about how much recent graduates are making.
Officials said the database would help students on the job market see where their peers were hired and help the University market itself to prospective students as a school that offers promising career options after graduation.
Rachel Brown, the assistant provost for Career Services, said the new system will assist students in understanding how their education “will help current and prospective students better understand how a GW education will help them reach their goals.”
“Students can use the visualization as a tool to see the opportunities that recent graduates pursued and the breadth of options that exist,” Brown said in an email.
The Office of Survey Research and Analysis designed the database, with assistance from the Division of Information Technology, on Tableau, a free platform for data visualization, she said.
The database was created with information from three different surveys issued to recent graduates. All of GW’s 14 peer schools also post results of similar surveys, and New York and Tufts universities have a similar searchable resource.
This year, the vast majority (85 percent) of the classes of 2014 and 2015 responded to a survey asking them about their activities six months after graduation. About half of respondents were employed full- or part-time, and 14 percent of respondents in both classes were seeking employment.
Two years ago, the number of graduates who responded to the survey increased significantly after the University decided to contact former students three times instead of only once.
Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman said the dashboard is also part of GW’s “transparency commitment” to make information available to prospective students.
“We want, when people ask us about the value of a GW education should they come to GW, this to be one part of that,” he said.
Maltzman said the database could help students decide what to major in because it shows career prospects for different tracks. He said it could also help alumni and seniors look for jobs.
“It’s also useful for students already on the market to say, ‘Hey there are other people like me, and this is where they ended up, and I should go ahead and pursue these people because they’ve obviously found something,’” he said.
Jeff Strohl, the director of research at the Georgetown University Center on Education, said while there is interest in employment data, schools should be careful to not just “make pretty pictures” with data. He said it’s important to place responses in context – like how many respondents answered survey questions.
“I think if anything is missing from this website, it’s a thing about qualification that says you know, take this data with a grain of salt,” Strohl said. “Just because everyone else went to Texas doesn’t mean there isn’t a job for you in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Florida, all these other places.”
Dan Schawbel, a consultant for recent graduates and the founder of Millennial Branding and Worktrends.com, said the new database could be useful because it provides easier access to alumni.
This year, the Alumni Association has focused on creating more formal connections with alumni. GW also organizes a group of students called Colonial Ambassadors who are tasked with connecting students to alumni. Alumni also host monthly dinners and speed networking nights with students.
“By far the most important thing a school can do is provide easier access to alumni,” Schawbel said. “It’s more important than taking classes. It’s more important than anything. Those companies are more likely to hire someone who went to their school. There’s a stronger connection there. You have common experiences. They know the classes you took.”
While the database only provides information about students who have only been in the workforce for a maximum of two years, Schawbel said it could still help students find employers where they have a better chance of getting hired.
“People hire people. You can submit your resume to thousands of different websites, but you’re much more likely to find a job by knowing someone,” he said. “Even if they are connecting with people who have only been at the company for a few years or a few months, that’s still an in at a company.”