A Jefferson Degree Pays Off

The University’s First Destination Report shows undergraduates achieve over a 96% employment and grad school success rate.

Despite a volatile job market due to the pandemic, over 96% of Jefferson Class of 2022 undergraduates are employed or in graduate school.

The University’s annual First Destination Report—conducted by the Marianne Able Career Services Center—surveyed nearly 350 recent alumni from the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and CommerceCollege of Architecture and the Built EnvironmentCollege of Health ProfessionsCollege of Humanities and Sciences and College of Life Sciences.

The latest results reflect the consistent success of Jefferson students, says Tracy DePedro, director of the Career Services Center.

As the pandemic loosened its grip on the country, the University could safely bring back in-person recruiting and job fairs in spring 2022, which aided in connecting students to employers, she says. Over 80 companies attended the career fair last March at the Gallagher Center on East Falls Campus.

The amount of real-world experience I’d tallied up in my four years helped me to stick out when applying for jobs.
–Landscape Architecture Alumnus Jake Tanis

In addition, to meet the needs of a changing job landscape, the Career Services Center expanded industry relations with the health fields and DePedro and her team assisted more students with graduate school prep, including applications and mock interviews. To further break down the First Destination Report, roughly 53% of those surveyed are employed and 43% attend graduate school.

The Nexus caught up with three Class of 2022 alumni to see the University’s impact on their lives and where their careers are heading.

Law and Society Alumna Kaitlyn Viola

Law and society alumna Kaitlyn Viola is pursuing her Master of Public Policy degree at American University.

How did Jefferson prepare you for your next career step, whether it’s graduate school or a full-time job?
Law and Society Alumna Kaitlyn Viola: Obtaining a BS in Law and Society provided me with the training and leadership skills necessary for a career in public service. As I pursue my Master of Public Policy at American University, I recognize daily how lucky I am to have attended Jefferson.

The professors, colleagues and friends I encountered at Jefferson quickly became family to me, and I stay in touch with them as I navigate my graduate degree path. My experience at Jefferson equipped me with insurmountable leadership skills that continue to positively inform my academics.

Mechanical Engineering Alumna Vanessa Perez: My interviewing skills improved thanks to the Career Service Center’s tips and resume-building assistance. It played a significant role in enabling me to move on during the hiring process. Also, during Career Day, I practiced speaking with potential employers, strengthening my communication skills.

Landscape Architecture Alumnus Jake Tanis: My time at Jefferson was challenging, and it equipped me with the knowledge and mindset to fit well in my profession. The amount of real-world experience I’d tallied up in my four years helped me to stick out when applying for jobs. Another crucial piece to my learning was having close relationships with my extremely knowledgeable professors, who always offered the help I needed to succeed.

What are some of your favorite moments as a Jefferson undergrad?
Kaitlyn Viola: Aside from meeting lifelong best friends, some of my greatest moments were with faculty members. Law and Society program director Dr. Evan Laine was undoubtedly a primary influence in my experience. It became clear from my first day there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that every student at Jefferson can and will change the world, and his support and dedication to pushing his students led me to unexpected opportunities.

Photo of Mechanical Engineering Alumna Vanessa Perez

Mechanical Engineering alumna Vanessa Perez is a consultant engineer for TG Advisers.

I engaged in some of the most rigorous and thought-provoking discussions in his courses, during which opinions from all over the spectrum were invited and respected. Coursework at Jefferson adopts a hands-on approach that requires students to develop critical-thinking skills and data-informed solutions when grappling with some of the largest issues of our time.

Another must-mention faculty member is Dr. Samuel Weeks, assistant professor of anthropology. Although I took multiple courses with Dr. Weeks, his influence extended well beyond the classroom. He actively supported my interests and led me to a plethora of resources and connections to further foster my policy and career aspirations.

Whether he connected me with relevant contacts, assisted me with job and grad school applications, supported events I led at Jefferson or gifted me a book relevant to issues in the education policy world, Dr. Weeks is a stellar example of a faculty member dedicated to contributing positively to students’ academic and career paths. I will never forget the faculty members who reminded me I was capable of significant change if I committed myself to my passions.

Vanessa Perez: Integrated Engineering Product Development was my favorite course. We collaborated with business, finance and industrial design students to create a product for Tenneco. It was unique and interesting to see how all the students could use their knowledge from their classes to come together to design a successful product.

The activities during Tuesday and Thursday lunch periods—especially the stress-relieving events in Kanbar around midterms—were some other favorite times at Jefferson.

Photo of Jake Tanis

After interning at Langan Engineering, Landscape Architecture alumnus Jake Tanis now works full-time for the company.

Jake Tanis: Working long nights on projects is a college rite of passage. Having the design studio space to work on them with my friends made this fun no matter how much I had left to do on a Sunday night.

What projects are you working on in grad school, and what are your plans after graduation?
Kaitlyn Viola: As a research assistant, I’m assisting in data compilation and synthetization, developing literature reviews and completing final edits on academic reports. I also assist my program director by completing research to inform public policy program operations and outcomes.

My research team is preparing to publish an academic report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The report contains an equity assessment of lead service line placements in NYC. I’m also pursuing a summer internship with a Washington, D.C., think tank focused on education policy, with a particular emphasis on achievement gaps, student outcomes and social mobility. After completing my graduate degree, I plan to gain additional experience in education research, learn as much as possible with primary stakeholders and K-12 education statistics and eventually work with the U.S. Department of Education on equity initiatives and performance assessments.

What’s your job now, and what are your core responsibilities?
Vanessa Perez: I’m a consultant engineer for TG Advisers. I work with a team of engineers to advise power plant operators on the best preventive measures to extend the steam/gas turbines’ longevity. The units may encounter blading erosion, rotor instabilities and crack propagation. Based on the issue, my responsibilities include gathering data, graphing or building a 2D finite element analysis model of the unit to predict how it will react to forces and stresses, and conducting engineering analysis.

My experience at Jefferson equipped me with insurmountable leadership skills that continue to positively inform my academics.
–Law and Society Alumna Kaitlyn Viola

Jake Tanis: I interned at Langan Engineering in Philadelphia going into my senior year, and I was eventually offered a full-time job on the landscape architecture team. I’ve worked on large-scale projects like the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia and the National Institutes of Health campus in Maryland.

My primary job responsibilities include producing concept and construction document-level drawings for our clients and coordinating with our other disciplines, such as civil, environmental, structural and geotechnical engineering to get these drawings out the door. Hard work pays off, but it all starts with having the tools and right people around you to get it done. Jefferson had everything I needed, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had gone anywhere else.

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Life at Jefferson