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Survey shows St. Thomas degree is worth it

By , Reporter  |  Sunday, March 10, 2013 9:49 PM

130308_VALUEUSTDEGREE_INFOGRAPHICThe undergraduate admissions website reported that 92 percent of St. Thomas alumni who participated in the 2011 “First Year Out” survey were employed, enrolled in graduate school, volunteering or enlisted in the military within six months of receiving their diploma.

Prior to graduation, 58 percent of seniors also landed internships.

“The biggest piece of feedback I’ve heard from my hiring managers is an elevated level of trust that they have with St. Thomas graduates,” Matthew Walker, a 2007 St. Thomas graduate, said.

Diane Crist, director of the Career Development Center said the St. Thomas brand helps graduates.

“St. Thomas has a really good reputation, definitely out in the upper-Midwest,” Crist said. “If you get into the Chicago area, St. Thomas may not have the same name recognition, but in the Twin Cities it has a very good reputation for being a great school.”

St. Thomas alumni updated the university with their success a year after graduation. Within the 2011 graduating class alone, 20 alumni were hired by Target Corp., followed by 13 graduates at UnitedHealth Group, and nine alumni who were hired at Ameriprise.

“St. Thomas is a very well respected university … and carries a lot of weight when companies are determining who to interview and who to remove in the process,” Walker said. “I interviewed and was offered jobs at multiple Fortune 500 companies who all specifically targeted undergraduates from St. Thomas, Carleton and St. Olaf.”

While Walker said the St. Thomas brand positioned him well for obtaining a job, 2012 graduate Sarah Tinsman isn’t convinced that a degree from St. Thomas on her resume did the trick.

“I don’t think I had an upper-hand by any means, but I do feel that St. Thomas set me up for success in the job market,” Tinsman said. “They pushed the importance of internships, a well-written resume and having strong interviewing skills.”

At the same time, Tinsman said St. Thomas students have a reputation for being prepared for the workforce and being professional.

Nadine Friederichs, Student Alumni Council adviser, said St. Thomas also earned name recognition outside of the Midwest.

“Some programs are even starting to be known and are accredited nationally, like the (Opus) College of Business, the School of Education and Leadership, and Catholic Studies,” Friederichs said.

The 2012-2013 St. Thomas Almanac listed 15 programs accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Some of the accreditations earned are the American Chemical Society, American Bar Association, Council of Social Work and Education, and the National Association of Schools in Music.

According to Friederichs, the university’s accreditations and name-recognition are not the only helpful aspects for students seeking jobs.

“The network of alumni is probably one of the strongest things coming out of here because you have generations of Tommies in the workplace right now,” Friederichs said. “About two-thirds of graduates are working in the Twin Cities area.”

Tinsman said networking with St. Thomas students and faculty especially helped her.

“The connections that St. Thomas faculty have are very beneficial to students who take advantage of the opportunities those connections offer,” Tinsman said. “I will be forever grateful to the professors that helped me connect with people in the workforce.”

While Crist said graduating from a university that carries name recognition is beneficial, solely the St. Thomas name will not lead to success.

“The work has to be done,” Crist said. “Students need to get out there and meet a lot of people. It’s not an automatic job, but it certainly is helpful.”

Tinsman agreed.

“Don’t expect to have something fall into your lap. It’s very unrealistic, and if that’s how you search for a job you’ll find yourself empty-handed and living in your parents’ basement come graduation,” Tinsman said.

Eden Checkol can be reached at chec7168@stthomas.edu.

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