Graduating in the fall puts students in an interesting situation: they enter the job search well before the rest of their peers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey indicates that hiring rates go up in January. Gallup’s weekly job market survey shows that companies hire more in the first month of the year.
Meanwhile, with millions of college students graduating in June, it seems as though the market would be flooded with job searchers. Many think that fall graduation, at the beginning of the fiscal year and with little competition, is the smartest choice for college students.
The truth is more complex. Depending on each student’s industry, career choice and personal preference, graduating in the fall is a multifaceted experience.
According to Eileen Buecher, executive director of career services, many companies accommodate for the large influx of students entering the workforce in June, so market flooding is not an issue. Many large companies in STEM fields such as Amazon, Apple and Boeing, work in conjunction with Cal Poly Career Services to hire graduates in July. There is no difference between fall graduation and graduating at any other time if students are looking for jobs with these companies, as long as the students take advantage of career fairs and programs that Career Services offers.
“For one year after graduation, graduates still have full access to use Career Services so they can still meet with their career counselors,” Amie Hammond, interim assistant director of career services, said. “If they moved home, they can set up a phone appointment, they can come to career fairs, they can come to workshops.”
Buecher, a College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) career counselor, also said that other companies hire at the beginning of the fiscal year when they have the most money and are projecting the immediate future of the company. This means more hiring in January and February, in which case students will benefit from fall graduation and will be able to get jobs when other students are unavailable. This applies to the majority of smaller companies, but not all.
For students from CAFES, the best time for graduation is dependent upon the industry they want to get into. For example, the pecan industry reaches its peak in fall, but wine grapes are harvested in late July. Therefore, those wanting to get involved in the pecan industry have a better chance at reaching the job they want if they graduate in fall, while those looking at viticulture will find their job either way.
Students can also graduate in winter, go to the southern hemisphere and work seasonal summer jobs.
Other sectors of the job market seem to be unaffected by the time of year. The U.S. government hires throughout the year, so graduation term does not make a large difference in job opportunities with the government.
Beyond increasing chances of getting a job, many students have other reasons to graduate in fall. Some may want to take a gap quarter in the winter, exploring the world while keeping in contact with employers and lining up a job for when they return. Others may want to take on a winter internship to make themselves more attractive to employers or work full time to pay off student debt.
With fall commencement approaching, graduating seniors will have their own unique set of circumstances to face. Though the default graduation time is in spring, Cal Poly students should first consider their course load and choose their best graduation date based upon that.