Career resources put Class of 2016 on path to success

Preparation paid off for members of UChicago’s Class of 2016, who worked diligently to secure strong post-graduation opportunities in a diverse range of professional fields as well as competitive graduate programs.

Ninety-three percent of the Class of 2016 graduated with career plans in place, and many alumni credit early engagement with UChicago’s Office of Career Advancement as a major factor in their success.

“The Class of 2016 had particularly high participation, with almost all of the students using our services and engaging with our office very early on,” said Meredith Daw, assistant vice president and executive director of Career Advancement. “They’re drawn to the fact that we’re providing so many opportunities for them to hear from industry leaders and experience the world of work.”

Michael Warren, AB’16, was one of the students who hit the ground running. Coming from a family of physicians, Warren knew he had a passion for science and medicine, so he met with UChicago Careers in Health Professions, Career Advancement’s pre-professional program that prepares students for careers in health care and medicine.

“Once I knew that I wanted to pursue medical school, I immediately made an appointment during Winter Quarter of my first year,” Warren said. Warren secured a competitive medical research fellowship, joining a select cohort of students preparing for clinical medicine careers, and ultimately gained admission to the Yale School of Medicine. According to Career Advancement, 82 percent of UChicago applicants were accepted to medical school in the 2016 cycle — more than double the national average of 39 percent.

The College and Career Advancement have made it a top priority to provide resources to allow students to explore their academic and professional interests.

“Career resources help our students apply the critical and creative skills from the Core to their goals beyond the classroom,” said Dean of the College John W. Boyer. “The availability of career advising from the first year on means that all of our students can develop their intellectual personalities in this way. There are benefits for our students and their employers, and the experience of the Class of 2016 bears this out.”

Gaining hands-on experience

In addition to career advising, the Class of 2016 took advantage of hands-on experiential learning opportunities. For example, Christian Wyse, AB’16, gained an insider’s view of law school and the legal profession by participating in career “treks” organized by Career Advancement’s UChicago Careers in Law program.

“From convenient lectures and site visits in Chicago to in-depth treks on the East Coast, the program has given me the opportunity to talk with federal judges, U.S. attorneys and partners at major law firms,” Wyse said. He is among the 84 percent of law school applicants from UChicago who were accepted to a top-14 program. After confirming his interest in law, Wyse matriculated to the University of Chicago Law School.

Sruthi Ramaswami, AB’16, was another student who used treks to advance her career. As a member of the Trott Business Program (formerly known as UChicago Careers in Business), she participated in several treks, including one to New York City to meet with financial services leaders.

“The trek gave us exposure to a variety of fields within finance,” recalled Ramaswami, now an analyst at Goldman Sachs. “We met with UChicago alumni and learned about their career paths on Wall Street. The experience influenced how I approached recruiting and evaluated options going forward.”

Networking and alumni connections also played a key role in the career path of Stephanie Champi, AB’16, who felt called to a career in education. At UChicago, Champi met numerous education professionals at events organized by the UChicago Careers in Education Professions program. Those interactions helped her decide what she wanted from her career.

“Talking to a variety of people in Chicago and outside of Chicago, I was able to better formulate my own path into the education industry,” Champi said. “As a result, I am a Teach for America 2016 corps member in Boston teaching middle-school math, and I’m consistently thinking and trying to incorporate the classroom-level research that I was exposed to through UCIEP.”

The Class of 2016 was also highly successful at securing substantive internships, and their skills and experience gave them a distinct advantage in the job market. For example, by the time that Dake Kang, AB’16, graduated from the College, he had already completed three journalism internships with CNN, The Times of India and Fox News. Kang also worked closely with the UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts and Media program.

“Journalism is a chaotic and challenging calling to get into right now,” said Kang, now working in Thailand as an Overseas Press Club fellow with the Associated Press. “The one-on-one attention and the access to rich and robust opportunities I got helped me carve out a concrete and compelling path in journalism.”

To ensure such opportunities for every graduating class, Career Advancement offers more than 2,000 paid, substantive internships through the Jeff Metcalf Internship Program and is working closely with College Admissions to get students excited about career resources at UChicago before they arrive. Daw expects that this pre-matriculation outreach will fuel continued student engagement and success.

“We have been very integrated into the admissions process,” she said. “When we talk to juniors and seniors in high school, we tell them, ‘This is what awaits you,’ so when they get here, they want to work with us.”

Ramaswami urges incoming first-year students to take advantage of career advising and programming. “There are so many valuable resources available,” she said. “Make the best use of them.”