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GVSU Career Center Releases First Destination Annual Report

May 02, 2022

GVSU Career Center Releases First Destination Annual Report

By: Jacob DeWeerd

Each academic year, the GVSU Career Center conducts the First Destination survey, which asks new graduates about their post-graduate endeavors. The survey is an effective tool in analyzing how GVSU is helping students in their job searches, career development, and general readiness to enter the world of work.

This year’s First Destination Annual Report, featuring graduate responses from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, is the first to include results from students who completed their final year of college education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many results look similar to years past, there are some intriguing developments that may show how the pandemic has affected students’ job searches and the broader world of work.

“I think this year’s report, in my 18 years at Grand Valley, is the most difficult and unique to really understand, given that this graduating class we surveyed is from the absolute middle of the pandemic,” said Career Center Director Troy Farley.

The most prominent number in the survey results is the “destination rate”, which shows the percentage of “respondents reporting a primary status of employed full-time, employed part-time, continuing education, volunteer service, military service, or not seeking”, according to the Annual Report. 

This year’s survey respondents reported an 84% destination rate, down from last year’s mark of 90%. While a 6% drop in one year may seem significant, it’s important to note that the survey began during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns when national unemployment was at over 10%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and many companies were halting hiring processes to try and stay afloat.

Farley highlighted two other notable numbers in the “Student Satisfaction” section of the Annual Report, the first of which being the percentage of students that agreed their current employment status matched their goals and expectations. 68% of students agreed, but that number was also down compared to last year.

“The previous year had 83% agree that their current status matches their goals and expectations,” said Farley. “That’s a clear sign that the pandemic has had a real impact.”

On the other hand, 87% of respondents were satisfied with the overall services offered by the Career Center. That number increased 4% from last year, which indicates the Career Center’s work during the pandemic has been positively impactful for GVSU students, even if it was a difficult adjustment during the height of lockdowns and other lifestyle changes.

“After we learned everything was going online, I went to leave and [colleague] Susan Proctor said ‘Where are you going? We’ve got work to do!’ and she was right,” Farley said. “We were able to totally flip our services from primarily in person to 100% virtual in 48 hours.”

The First Destination results also paint a positive picture for the future of alternative work models. Although a higher percentage of students are working in Michigan (85% compared to 81% last year), students are finding jobs in new places. Respondents are located in states like Texas, Florida, and New York, and states like Colorado and Minnesota continue to be popular destinations for GVSU students moving away after graduation.

Farley attributes that trend to changes in interviewing policies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, if a student wanted to interview for a job across the country, there was a good chance that they’d have to travel to that interview in person. Now, many interviews are done virtually, so students have more options when it comes to searching for jobs outside of Michigan.

“It’s really opened up the possibilities for Lakers to go almost anywhere based on the accessibility for employers,” said Farley. “And I think that’s a strong component that’ll stay post-pandemic.”

Overall, the First Destination results paint a complicated picture of the current world of work. It’s clear that many industries are going through massive changes and students are entering a workforce eager to utilize their skills, but the journey to get to that point is certainly much different than it was two years ago. Luckily, the Career Center is always ready to help Lakers find their way.

To see more results from this year’s First Destination Annual Report, visit 2022 graduates can share their own experiences in the First Destination survey.


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Page last modified May 2, 2022