What First Destination Survey Results Can Reveal about Structural Barriers to Employment

By Abigail Aldridge’19

Each year, the Liberal Arts in Practice Center collects data on the first destinations of Beloit graduates. This information is extremely helpful in sharing the successes of a Beloit College education with prospective families and alumni; however, this data can also be useful to current students as well, by illuminating any structural barriers that alumni have faced during the employment process. This article shares results from the 2017 First Destination Survey, which found no statistically significant differences between graduates based on social identities. For more on “Social Identities in the Workplace,” please visit the LAPC’s website. 

At the fall 2018 Advising Practicum, Director of Career Development Jessica Fox-Wilson’98 and I gave a presentation about structural barriers to employment and the struggles students may face at various stages of the process due to their backgrounds or social identities. The presentation included information about discriminatory hiring practices, alumni statistics, and alumni testimony. 

Social identities (such as ability, age, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic class) can affect every step of the job search process, in different ways. Specifically, social factors can affect the search, application, and/or interview process. For example, are there some aspects of your identity that limit where you can search for jobs, including not only the location of the job, but also the values of the company or organization? Are your identities immediately evident on your application materials? If your identities are something that are not immediately apparent just by interacting with you, when do you decide to disclose those identities and to whom?

When thinking about these questions, it is important to consider what information and resources are already accessible to you. When navigating structures of oppression, consider the skills you already possess, but also, remember to look to the people and communities around you who share similar experiences. Talking directly to Beloit College alumni can be very valuable, but you can also indirectly learn a great deal about alumni through the LAPC.

The LAPC collects a lot of data that can shed light on the struggles and victories of students from marginalized backgrounds. One such example is the First Destination Survey, which is distributed to alumni the fall after graduation. It takes about a total of three minutes to complete and collects a student’s basic contact information, but the survey also asks a few questions about what the student has been doing since graduation.

Based on information gathered from previously collected college data, students can be divided out by identity (e.g., ability status, gender, race/ethnicity), and then we can use First Destination survey results to ask questions about who is getting hired after graduation. In this post, we’ll examine the research question: “Are racial/ethnic minority students and students with disabilities employed at similar rates as white and able-bodied students?”

The short answer is yes; we are not seeing significant differences in outcomes for minority students. However, the complete picture is a bit more complex.

All First Destinations from the Class of 2017

The above graph shows all outcomes for the class of 2017. All full-time statuses are in green, all part-time in yellow, and all seeking in red. Any part-time or full-time status is considered a positive outcome. Full-time employment is defined as anything over 30 hours a week. If the graph is separated out by ability status, we can look at the placement results for students with disabilities versus students without disabilities.

One difference between these graphs is that there are more graduates with disabilities working part-time and seeking education than graduates without disabilities. However, the number of graduates who are continuing education is the same for both. It’s not that fewer alumni with disabilities are getting accepted to graduate school, but rather, more alumni with disabilities are applying to graduate school in the first place. Despite these graphs’ differences, there are no statistically significant differences between outcomes for graduates with or without disabilities.

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Outcomes by race/ethnicity (including international students) for the Class of 2017

This graph summarizes results by race-ethnicity. A higher proportion of racial/ethnic minority students and international students attended graduate school than white students in the class of 2017. Overall, 95% of racial/ethnic minority students and 100% of international students had some sort of full-time outcome (compared to 80% of white students) in the class of 2017. On average, international graduates and graduates of color saw more positive results than white students. A few contributing factors could be that international graduates face higher pressures to find a job after graduation because of visa restrictions, and the prevalence of grad-school preparatory programs at Beloit like McNair.

In conclusion, the First Destination survey is a useful tool when it comes to predicting career outcomes for graduates of Beloit College. This is why it is so important that students— like you— participate in the survey after graduation. More participation means data that is more representative, and that results in more accurate predictions. In turn, the LAPC is able to better prepare relevant career development resources for students.

More information about hiring discrimination can be found on the LAPC’s website on the “Social Identities in the Workplace” page. Resources are categorized by specific identity, including additional information about Equal Opportunity laws in the U.S.