From the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the sudden swell of artificial intelligence, to an increasingly hybrid job market — this year’s graduating class has had a unique experience. 

Generally about 35% of students of all majors have a job by graduation, according to Ross Wade, Elon’s director of career services for the School of Communications.

“Most seniors do not have jobs lined up, and that’s very normal,” Wade said.

Wade said creative agencies tend to have internships specifically for recent graduates with much earlier deadlines, but general companies hire as needed, so students should apply 30 days from their desired start date.

With so many job search databases available on the internet, graduates must figure out for themselves which are the most effective and work for the industry they are pursuing a career in, Wade said.

“I think the most popular one is LinkedIn, but I think that’s the least effective one,” Wade said. “Because there’s a lot of crap on LinkedIn. It has every job on the web there. I think a lot of students also use that because there’s ‘Easy Apply’ which I don’t think is really effective at all.”

“Easy Apply” is a LinkedIn feature that allows applications to be filled out automatically with profile information and saved answers.

The Student Professional Development Center’s online resources page under Internship/Job Search and Networking has a list of links to various sites from budgeting to company research to interview tips, but no job search databases are linked other than LinkedIn and the Elon Job Network.

Wade said the Elon Job Network is best for job and internship searches, citing Elon alumni employees available to reach out to, as well as the university’s connections to employers.

“If the student wanted us to maybe reach out … I can send a little referral email to my contact over there to give them a heads-up,” Wade said.

The latest statistic Elon University offers of graduation rates is that 83.8% of students who entered in 2011 had graduated within six years.

Chase Albritton ’24 majored in computer science and said he started a solutions engineer position at Tron Solutions in Raleigh on June 10. He said he found out about the company from recruiters, including three Elon alumni, at Elon’s STEM Career Fair in fall 2023. When Albritton reached out to them to apply for a position, they told him they had closed it because of too many applicants but were opening another.

“They were like, ‘Luckily, you reached out to us. You can be one of the first to apply,’” Albritton said. “So I went through the process really early, became their first hire. I got an offer by mid-November and accepted by late November.”

Albritton said being able to connect with Elon alumni in his company of interest played an important part.

“I had reached out to all three of them instead of trying to do one just to ensure to get my face out there,” Albritton said.

College alumni networks are very powerful, Wade said, especially in competitive markets such as Los Angeles, New York and D.C. Wade said students will apply to a multitude of positions and never hear back.

“I’ve heard students say, ‘I applied and I feel like I’m in a black hole,’” Wade said. “But in talking to alumni, they can learn more about the industry and have someone that could potentially be an advocate for them when they apply … an alum could potentially refer you to get you on the interview list.”

Albritton’s advice for graduates in the search and application process was to build up a portfolio and share it.

“If you can’t secure an internship or job, keep working on personal projects so you can just show other people your talent,” Albritton said. “If it’s not on your LinkedIn, showcase it on your social media.”

Ninety-six percent of Elon’s class of 2023 students are employed, have been accepted to graduate or professional school, are completing a post-graduate internship or fellowship or working for a service organization, according to a survey sent out by Elon’s Student Professional Development Center.

The voluntary response survey was sent to Elon alumni nine months after the class of 2023’s graduation. In addition to the 96% of graduates who are employed or in school, 95% of those employed selected that their position is related to their career objective, which is up 1% from 2022 and up 3% from 2021.

Matthew Bobzien ’24, a senior arts administration and drama and theatre studies double-major, said he has mostly used Artsearch, as well as Indeed, to search for positions in his specific field, such as technical theater and theater education. He said he’s been applying for jobs based in North Carolina as well as New York City and Chicago.

“My hope is to also do freelance directing, dramaturgy, and lighting design, especially for dance, wherever I end up,” Bobzien said.

Brian Kata ’24 said he hopes to learn from the real world by entering the workforce before pursuing further education in data science.

“I want to continue following my passion of business analytics to improve on the world around me,” Kata said.