Finding Value in Career Services, Mentorships, and Inclusive Experiences for College Graduates

By Jael Greene

Gallup recently released their third annual Gallup-Purdue Index Report, Great Jobs. Great Lives. The Value of Career Services, Inclusive Experiences and Mentorship for College Graduates. This report used a web-based survey of more than 11,000 college graduates in the United States in order to provide university leaders with information on campus career services, mentoring and internship programs, and racial and gender inclusivity on campus. 

The results of this report include:

  • Fifty-two percent of college graduates said they visited their institution’s career services office as undergraduates. Recent graduates (those who graduated between 2010 and 2016) were more likely to report visiting career services than older graduates.
    • More than 60% of recent graduates said they had visited career services at least once, compared to 30% of those who graduated between 1950 and 1959.
    • Graduates who visited career services were more likely to report being employed full time (67%) compared to those who did not visit career services (59%).
  • The quality of career services mattered more than simply having students visit career services. Delivering high-quality career services showed positive impacts on graduates’ lives.
    • Forty-nine percent of graduates who found their campus career services to be very helpful reported that they had a good job waiting for them upon graduation, compared to 15% of the graduates who said career services was not at all helpful;
    • Graduates who visited career services and said their interactions were very helpful were almost six times more likely to say their university prepared them well for life outside of college than those who did not find career services helpful; and
    • More than 70 percent of graduates who found career services helpful thought their degree was worth the cost, compared to 24% of those who did not find career services helpful.
  • Prior Gallup research has shown the importance of mentors and internships for a graduate’s future employee engagement, quality of life and feeling that their college degree was worth the cost. This survey asked graduates about the sources of their mentors or internships.
    • Approximately 25% of college graduates strongly agreed that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their career goals during their undergraduate studies. Of the recent graduates who strongly agreed or agreed that they had a mentor, 81% indicated that their mentor was one of their professors.
    • Fifty-five percent of college graduates said they had a job or internship during their undergraduate experience that allowed them to apply what they were learning in their classes. Of the graduates with job or internships, 60 percent reported obtaining the position with the help of a professor or other staff person.
    • The source of the mentor or learning opportunity did not make college graduates more or less likely to have perceptions of their college experience; having the mentor or learning opportunity was the important factor.
  • Finally, the survey asked questions about diversity on campuses since previous Gallup research has shown that college graduates who interact with people from diverse backgrounds during their undergraduate experience are twice as likely to think that their degree was worth the cost.
    • Approximately 68% of college graduates who received their degrees between 1990 and 2016 said their university was a good place for racial and ethnic minorities to study. Twenty-five percent did not know if it was a good place for racial and ethnic minorities to study and seven percent thought it was not a good place.
    • Forty-two percent of those college graduates who received their degrees between 1990 and 2016 said their university was a good place for LGBT students to study. Forty-nine percent reported that they did not know if it was a good place and nine percent thought it was not a good place.
    • Eighty-eight percent of recent graduates who experienced exposure to diversity in college believed that their alma mater was a good place for minorities to study.