Jefferson Drives Students to Succeed

Undergrads achieve 97% employment and grad school success rate.

Despite pandemic-related challenges, 97% of Jefferson undergraduates from the Class of 2021 are employed, enrolled in a graduate program or completing military service, according to the First Destination Report.

The University’s annual report—conducted by the Marianne Able Career Services Center—surveyed nearly 350 recent graduates from the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, College 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 alumni, says Tracy DePedro, director of the Career Services Center. In fact, this survey showed increases in graduate school plans and acceptance into Jefferson programs.

Grads from the class of 2021
Landscape architecture alumnus Ben Nardi works at landscape architecture firm GGN. Zaheeda Zakir earned her pre-physician assistant degree and now is in the University’s MS in physician assistant studies program.

For example, Zaheeda Zakir earned her pre-physician assistant degree in May 2021 and now is enrolled in the University’s MS in physician assistant studies program.

Her interest in health care started in high school. As an undergrad, she worked as an emergency medical technician and certified nursing assistant, served as co-president of Jefferson’s Physician Assistant Student Society and thrived in her classes.

“I associated with academically driven people, which motivated me even more,” says Zakir, who may pursue a career in hematology and oncology after graduating in 2023.

Recent landscape architecture alumnus Ben Nardi also benefited from working closely with fellow students and faculty, especially program director Kim Douglas.

First Destination Chart
Highlights from the University’s annual First Destination Report.

“We always looked at real-world opportunities,” he says. “Our projects were grounded rather than pie in the sky. I feel fortunate.”

At Jefferson, Nardi forged a tight relationship with one Philadelphia community for his “Finding Beauty in the Commonplace” proposal. The project would transform a brownfield site behind the Overbrook Environmental Education Center into a green space to reconnect residents and visitors to the land’s Overbrook and Millcreek watershed roots.

Nardi entered the project in the American Society of Landscape Architects student competition and bested 560 entries to earn the Honor Award in the general design category.

He currently lives in Seattle and works as a designer at the landscape architecture firm GGN. The company focuses on urban public design, including parks, plazas, streetscapes, gardens and roof terraces. The skills Nardi learned at Jefferson factor into his job daily.

Class of 2021 Grads
Class of 2021 finance grads Michael Rodriguez and Shawn Johnson now work at abrdn and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, respectively. At Jefferson, they founded a student club to improve financial literacy on campus.

“We use the community as an asset and look at public-outreach tools to bring everyone to the table to get the best design for everyone’s interest,” he explains.

Class of 2021 finance grads Shawn Johnson and Michael Rodriguez also found real-world experience during their time at the University crucial to them landing jobs right out of school. They co-founded Jeff Invest, a student club to improve financial literacy on campus.

Dealing with hedge funds and private credit solutions, Johnson is now an analyst at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. As an early career analyst at abrdn, Rodriguez is rotating through its marketing, wealth management, request for proposal and institutional sales teams to learn more about each avenue before settling on a path.

Johnson and Rodriguez also attribute their initial career success to supportive faculty well-connected to industry and several internships while at Jefferson.

Chart from first destination report

Highlights from the University’s annual First Destination Report.

The Class of 2021 took part in 77 internships for credit during the last school year, representing 19 majors, says DePedro, noting another highlight from the University’s First Destination Report. In addition, the Career Service Center reviewed 1,200-plus résumés, held dozens of presentations, workshops and webinars, and conducted over 400 counseling and advising appointments.

The 2021 virtual Design Expo and Career Fair attracted over 50 employers. That number more than tripled for this year’s major spring East Falls career events, with hundreds of students attending.

“Even though the pandemic brought with it challenges, our dedicated students have put in the work to secure top positions and grad school acceptances in their fields,” DePedro says. “We’re incredibly proud of them and grateful to the Jefferson community who have supported them along the way.”

Read the full First Destination Report here.

[Main photo credit:]

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