UI officials confident in grads' job placement reporting


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With a new school year approaching, officials at the Pomerantz Career Center say the University of Iowa's methods for reporting postgraduation job placement have historically provided accurate information and don't require changing.

Garry Klein, the assistant director of academic programs and assessments at the Pomerantz Career Center, said it is the university's responsibility to Iowa taxpayers and prospective students to publish accurate records.

"The primary way is self-reporting from the students through a survey prior to graduation," he said. "We follow up in six months after graduation with a phone group who calls the people who reported they did not have a job at graduation."

If officials are having trouble reaching graduates on the phone, Klein said they do some light digging through social-media venues such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

However, he said, they stop short of going too far.

"We are not trying to pester them to death," Klein said.

The Pomerantz Center is responsible for tracking and reporting job placement for the Tippie College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Starting this fall, the center will also be responsible for tracking the College of Education. All other colleges within the UI have their own systems for tracking job placement.

College of Education Dean Margaret Crocco said she is looking forward to the college's partnership with the Pomerantz Center.

"We chose to partner with the Pomerantz Center because the center has an extensive staff whose main function is career placement," she wrote in an email. "Last year, we turned our jobs fair over to them, which has worked out quite well. Our undergraduate students technically are all [College of Liberal Arts and Sciences] students, who get their teacher certification through us."

To publish a report, Klein said, the Pomerantz Center must have responses from at least 80 percent of the business graduating class and 65 percent from the liberal arts class.

"[To remain accurate] we tend to be more scientific about it and maintain a consistent time frame," Klein said. "We do reports every six months because that is how we have historically done it, and we want to stay consistent."

Ninety-two percent of spring 2011 graduates from the liberal-arts school reported permanent employment, enrollment in graduate studies, or not seeking employment. Sixty-five percent of the graduating class responded.

Matt Neuse, the associate director of the University of Northern Iowa Career Services, said UNI does things slightly differently.

Like the UI, UNI officials administer reports every six months and send emails to students to complete a survey prior to graduation.

However, the Institutional Research Office does a "snapshot" survey on graduation day.

"The graduates fill out little sheets of paper on their chairs, saying if they have a job or not," Neuse said.

He also said the UNI partners with the Iowa Department of Academic Development to see where alumni are employed. The university will be able to track alumni with an identification number.

UNI will be the second university to do this, and Neuse expects many to follow suit in the future.

Elliot Higgins, a recent graduate and former president of UI Student Government, said the Pomerantz Center was very helpful to him prior to graduation, although he had long planned on attending law school after graduation.

Klein said the Pomerantz Center defines job placement as graduates who either have a job, continuing their education, or if they are choosing not to enter the workforce.

"Placement means they have plans they are satisfied with," he said.

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