Please note: This post was originally produced by Boston University Questrom School of Business Director of Undergraduate Career Management Victoria Schroeder for publication on the CampusTap blog.

First destination data is arguably the most important collection of information that career centers gather and report across any college or university.

With the cost of higher education on the rise, a strong academic reputation and state of the art buildings are not the only attributes parents consider when looking at their child’s higher education experience. They want to know if their child will graduate with a job. Therefore, a career center’s ability to track comprehensive and accurate first destination information is key. And that’s why I want to catch you early in the year to share some strategies that have proven to enhance placement data collection.

Start Early

Every year students are offered full-time positions right out of their summer internships. By starting your outreach right when students return in the fall, you’re not only collecting data, but you also get to celebrate their success!

An additional benefit of reaching out to students during fall semester is your ability to catch them during their decision-making process, which can simultaneously help decrease the number of reneges.

Also, tap into your employers. If you know certain employers you work with tend to offer their interns full-time positions, ask them to provide you with a list of students that received offers so you can support the student through their acceptance process.

Offer Help

Undergraduate students are getting job offers for the first time in their lives! All of their academic efforts, extracurriculars, athletics, etc. have prepared them to launch into their young professional lives, and this job offer is their ticket to making that a reality.

With that said, it’s no wonder why the job offer has a lot of pressure around it. Students have to consider whether pay is enough to cover their bills, if they like the job, the culture, their boss, and now their parents want to weigh in, so offer to help.

Block times in your calendar to squeeze students in for quick 10-minute conversations where they can talk through their offer, review if it makes sense to negotiate, and ultimately if the position and role are a good fit. Students will be much more comfortable accepting or declining an offer after your conversation, and they will be much more likely to fill out your first destination survey after receiving a personalized follow-up email from you congratulating them on their offer.

Worried about trying this personalized method with all the volume? Write a standardized message you can save as a “Signature” in your Outlook, then just change out the name of the student and click “send.” You can also keep a list of student names and send one mail-merged email weekly to all the students you’ve talked to that week.

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Leverage Relationships

If your school or university thinks that first destination data collection solely falls on the career center, it’s your job to change that mentality. Identify as many conversations as you can where job placement data helps the school generate revenue. Top places to look are admissions, open house presentations, conversations being had with donors and alumni through development offices, and campus tours.

Compile this information and present it to leadership. Once they are reminded of how important first destination data is to the success of your institution, be prepared with your request and ask that they support your outreach efforts to get everyone involved in this process.

Leadership can offer career centers support by connecting them to an often untapped resource: faculty. It’s important to get faculty into to the habit of informing the career center on offer acceptances they learn about from students. You can also identify any senior-level seminars and lectures faculty may let you attend so you can remind seniors that you’re there to support their job search process and that they should alert you when they accept an offer.

If you’re not already collaborating with academic teams, leadership can also facilitate a partnership there, too. Academic advisors are likely meeting with seniors to review graduation requirements, so be sure they integrate language into their meetings about post-graduate plans and see if they’ve landed. Collecting first destination data is everyone’s job, so you will need to leverage staff and faculty relationships with students to collect that information. It starts with buy-in from leadership and your relationships with faculty and staff across the school.

Be Clever

Any touch point with a senior is an opportunity to check in on post-graduate plans, so identify every event, workshop, communication and outreach effort that will be sent only to seniors. If there’s a senior BBQ, add something fun to the event like raffle prizes to students who shared their post-graduate plans.

Is there a required meeting with academic advisors or a presentation they need to attend before they get their cap and gown? Awesome, integrate your first destination survey and/or a quick paper questionnaire with high-level questions regarding post-grad plans they can quickly fill out. Is nobody responding to your emails following graduation? Check out students LinkedIn pages to see where they landed and don’t be afraid to make a few phone calls.

After emails and LinkedIn, my team will call about 200 additional students that never told us by graduation time what their plans were. As we near the three-month mark, we also will send text messages. As a result, not only are you collecting data, but you’re able to help students that are looking for work — further boosting the reputation of career services and ultimately your placement statistics.  

The key to first destination success is relationships! Students, staff and faculty will be excited to share job acceptances if those relationships are established. So, do your best to integrate yourself with as much face time and follow up with university constituents, and you’re sure to see success. And remember, now that the success is the result of everyone’s hard work, that means everyone gets to celebrate too! Share the results with everyone along the way and continue to communicate gratitude for their partnership.

Victoria Schroeder

Victoria Schroeder

Victoria Schroeder is the Director of Undergraduate Career Services at Questrom School of Business at Boston University. She holds a master’s degree in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University. She previously managed a career program at the nonprofit Bottom Line and held positions as both a Technical Recruiter for a staffing firm and a Senior Fund Accountant at State Street. If you’d like to learn about parent engagement initiatives specific to Boston University and the Questrom School of Business, feel free to contact her at vschroed@bu.edu.