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Report: First Destination After Undergraduate Degree

We survey new graduates, completing undergraduate degrees, to learn their first destination, whether working, continuing education, in military service, volunteering, seeking, etc. The survey stays open for six months after commencement.

feet of graduate wearing rain boots
What's your next step after graduation? We asked. Grads told us.
2018-2019 grads had up to six months after commencement to tell their first destination.

Academic year FULL REPORTS

These reports tell the first destination information for graduates of that academic year. Select a year to see the menu to choose a major, a college, or whole university report.

All report informaton is subject to correction and updating.

Latest report HIGHLIGHTS

Response rates to First Destination Survey: 2018-2019 grads

Purpose of the survey is to learn what 2018-2019 Virginia Tech graduates are doing after the undergraduate degree.

How long did new grads have to self-report their first destination?

  • New grads had over seven months to self-report.
  • The survey opened one month before commencement and closed six months after.
  • Non-respondents were reminded that they could self-report throughout that time.
  • Respondents who indicated "seeking" were reminded they could update response throughout that time.
  • See self-report timeline.

2018-2019 grads response rates:

Total university: 55% | N=3789 out of 6867 grads.
College response rates:
- College of Agriculture & Life Sciences: 45%
- College of Architecture & Urban Studies: 48%
- College of Business: 63%
- College of Engineering: 62%
- College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences: 49%
- College of Natural Resources & Environment: 63%
- College of Science: 50%

Survey instrument change affected response rate

Response rates for 2018-2019 are lower than those for previous years, for total university and for each college. We attribute this to the methodology change effective for 2018-2019, using the Handshake First Destination Survey. We are planning strategies to boost response rate for future cohorts. View 2017-2018 response rates.

First Destination after undergraduate degree: 2018-2019 grads

2018-2019 Virginia Tech graduates, first destination after the undergraduate degree, based on voluntary response to First Destination Survey.


  • 60% working
  • 17% continuing education
  • 3% military
  • 1% volunteering
  • 16% seeking work
  • 3% seeking continued education
  • 1% not seeking

Grads who report seeking (work or continuing education) are able to update responses any time until the survey closes, but they might not do so.
Note: The change in survey instrument (Handshake) starting with the 2018-2019 cohort means we cannot make exact comparisons to prior years' data. You can view last year's data (2017-2018) first destination outcomes for colleges.

Continuing education after undergraduate degree: 2018-2019 grads


  • 17% of respondents [N=633 grads] reported continuing education, including all degree levels.
  • 11% reported master's degree.
  • 3.9% reported doctoral degree.
  • 1.5% reported one of the following: bachelor's; associate's; certificate; advanced certificate; or non-degree.
  • 0.4% did not provide degree information.

By college: (1) continuing education percentages are in the first destination accordion above; (2) degree breakdowns are in the charts below.

Graduate degrees and institutions

Employment after undergraduate degree: 2018-2019 grads

First destination employment, total university:

  • 60% of respondents [N=2261 grads] reported working.
  • 3% of respondents [N=99 grads] reported military service.
  • 1% of respondents [N=33 grads] reported volunteering.
  • 16% of respondents [N=617] reported they are seeking employment.

See percentages for each college in first destination above.


Employers, job titles, and locations:


Most-reported employers:

  • Employers are ordered by number of respondents who reported they are working for this employer.
  • The first ranked employer was reported by 56 grads, who comprised 2.37% of employed respondents.
  • Ten employers were each reported by more than 20 grads. Virginia Tech is in the number nine spot, reported by 23 grads.



Salary and bonus data

  • Employed graduates (working and military) are asked to report salary and bonus.
  • 83% of employed, N-1968, reported salary.
  • University median salary is $61,800.
  • 31% of employed, N-741, received a bonus.
  • University median bonus is $5,000.
  • We report median (the value in the middle) and not mean (the average) because the median is more reliable. Averages are skewed by outliers. Medians provide a more realistic picture. Particularly with self-reported data, errors and inaccuracies occur, making averages more subject to being skewed.
  • Salary and bonus information for each college and major is in the academic year full report.
    Medians are shown when four or more individuals reported salary or bonus; 25th and 75th percentiles are shown when 12 or more individuals reported salary or bonus.
  • View salary table with data for university, each college, and each major.
  • View bonus table with data for university, each college, and each major.
For 2018-2019 grads who reported employment, median salary is $61,800, and median bonus is $5,000.

How employed grads found job: 2018-2019 grads

Grads were asked: 
Regarding the job you accepted: Which best describes the way you first made contact with this employer?

  • 10% worked or volunteered with the employer in the past.
  • 14% knew or met the employer through someone I know / networking.
  • 26% career fair.
  • 6% Handshake (job posting platform used by Virginia Tech for employers to post jobs for VT students).
  • 2% employer interviewed in Smith Career Center through the On-Campus Interviewing Program.
  • 9% went directly to the employer's website.
  • 7% used a job-seeker website other than Handshake.
  • 2% through info posted or messaged from my academic department.
  • 1% employer spoke at a presentation I attended.
  • 21% did not answer.
graph: 10% of 2018-2019 univ grads found job with employer they previously worked or volunteered with.

Job related to career goals and major: 2018-2019 grads

Grads were asked:
Do you consider your job to be related to your career goals? 
... your college major?


  • 60% Very
  • 18% Somewhat
  • 2% Not
  • 19% No answer


  • 58% Very
  • 18% Somewhat
  • 5% Not
  • 19% No answer
2018-2019 grads: College of Natural Resources and Environment: 61% of those working say job is very related to career goals.

Career preparation during undergraduate degree: 2018-2019 grads


Grads were asked:
Which best describes the extent to which you learned job search skills during college?

  • 28% learned most that I needed.
  • 46% learned some, but not all, that I needed.
  • 8% learned nothing, or very little.
  • 18% did not answer.


Grads were asked:
As you recall: During college, did you use any resources provided by the Virginia Tech career center? (could include advising, workshops, website, Handshake, employment interviews, etc.)

  • 16% never.
  • 11% don't recall or unsure.
  • 48% yes, but not often.
  • 8% yes, often.
  • 16% did not answer.


Grads were asked:
If you learned job search skills, where did you learn them? Check all that apply.

  • 34% Career & Professional Development; advising, presentations, website, etc.
  • 13% Career Planning Guide; booklet free to VT students from CPD.
  • 7% Other books, magazines, print materials.
  • 36% Websites external to Virginia Tech.
  • 29% Academic-credit course in my major or college.
  • 4% Not-for-credit program in my major or college.
  • 39% Advisors, staff, professors in my major or college.
  • 11% Other VT advisors, staff, professors, NOT in my major or college.
  • 48% Employers, mentors at jobs, internships.
  • 52% Parents, adult relatives, family friends.
  • 46% Peers.
  • 22% Did not answer.
2018-2019 grads: UNIV, more than half used career center.
2018-2019 grads UNIV learned job search skills from multiple sources.

Experience during college: 2018-2019 grads

Grads were asked:
Did you have any type of career-related experience during college?

  • 75% said yes
  • 10% said no
  • 16% did not answer 

Grads were also asked about regrets related to career planning.

  • Even though 75% of grads had experience, 31% of graduates wished they had gotten more experience during college.

Grads were asked to check all types of experience they had.
TYPES of experience:

  • 22% Volunteer work
  • 27% Part-time job
  • 29% Summer job
  • 14% Unpaid internship
  • 56% Paid internship
  • 5% Co-op
  • 20% Undergraduate research
  • 9% Field study
  • 24% Did not answer types of experience


2018-2019 graduates: total university, 7% had career-related experience during college.


How many UNPAID internships did you have?

  • 0% Four or more
  • 1% Three
  • 3% Two
  • 13% One
  • 85% did not answer


How many PAID internships did you have?

  • 2% Four or more
  • 7% Three
  • 18% Two
  • 24% One
  • 48% did not answer
2018-2019 grads: College of Science: 50% of those working say job is very related to career goals.

Data collection timeline. Methodology.

  • Survey opens one month before commencement and closes six months after commencement. Grads have six months after commencement to tell and update their first destination.
  • Data collection closes mid-November for the previous May+summer grads. Report is published the following year.
  • Academic year grads are those who complete undergraduate degrees in December, May, Summer I & II. For the 2019-2020 year, we included the winter 2020 grads (which comprise a very small number) with the December 2019 survey sub-cohort.
  • COVID-19 notice: Given the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. and world economy, we are not surveying the May and summer 2020 graduates on the usual timeline, and will make decisions in the future on the appropriate means to gather first-destination information from these graduates.