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The Most Popular Post-Graduate Careers for Penn Students

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Disclaimer: Looking at the undergraduate postgraduate outcomes from 2020, an astounding 24% of the graduating class did not report their post-graduation paths. Compared to the 2013-2019 surveys, this was a shockingly low response rate, which can most likely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore important to read this article, which derives most of its information and statistics from the 2020 post-graduate outcome report, with that in mind. Also, all of the following information must be taken with a grain of salt as everything is self-reported via an optional post-graduation survey. Additionally, studies have shown that responses may be skewed because people who choose to take the survey have more extreme or strong opinions (which in this case would translate to jobs with high esteem or outcomes that Penn graduates were extremely dissatisfied with).

Enough disclaimers, though! Let’s dive right into what careers were the most popular for Penn 2020 graduates. Unsurprisingly, 30% of graduates pursued a career in Financial Services. This large number flows from the 51% employment rate in the industry of the 93.8% of graduates from the Wharton School (Wharton) that pursued full-time employment after graduation. Interestingly, of the 67.3% of graduates from the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) that pursued full-time employment after graduation, there was a 22% employment rate in the financial services industry. Moreover, of the 59% of graduates from the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) that pursued full-time employment after graduation, there was a 19% employment rate in the industry. After financial services, the next most popular industries were Consulting (20%) followed by Technology (16%) and Healthcare (8%).

For SAS graduates, employment in financial services was second to Consulting by 1%, with Consulting at 23%. While the difference was more prominent for SEAS students, finance was still second. Technology was in first place at 39%. For graduates of the School of Nursing, which had the second highest known full-time employment outcome of the four colleges at the University of Pennsylvania (70.1%), the primary industry of employment was Hospital Healthcare – at 85%.

In terms of post-graduation industry breakdown across the four undergraduate schools, the primary industries that Penn graduates entered were consulting, education, engineering/manufacturing, financial services, government, and healthcare. To further break down these statistics, the following were the primary job functions for each industry and the percentage of Penn graduates that entered that industry that took on those job functions (e.g. “80% of Penn graduates who entered the consulting industry took the job function of management/strategy consulting”):

  • Consulting → Management/strategy (80%)
  • Education → Other and Teaching tied (27%)
  • Engineering/Manufacturing → Research & Development (27%)
  • Financial Services → Investment Banking (44%)
  • Government → Administration (27%)
  • Healthcare → Nursing (46%)

It is also interesting to note that 49% of the reported full-time opportunities were found through Penn’s Career Services and an additional 6% were from Penn contacts. This is a shoutout for all Penn students reading this post and seeking employment – whether summer internships or full-time post-graduation – to check out Penn’s Career Service’s resources!

Now, onto my opinion about all of these statistics. First off, a short summary: Financial Services came up on top, with a surprising number of graduates from Wharton, SAS, and even SEAS pusing employment in this industry. Consulting came close behind, and most of their employees were from SAS and Wharton. Technology came in third, predominantly due to the overwhelming number of graduates from SEAS entering the tech industry. Healthcare followed due to the vast majority of Nursing graduates entering that industry.

Personally, I found the statistics to not be all that surprising as there is a certain ‘Wharton’ pressure or pressure by simply going to Penn that pushes people towards searching for jobs in the lucrative industries of Financial Services and Consulting. Furthermore, it is not surprising that students interested in these fields go to Penn in the first place, which is located in Philadelphia and close to both New York City and Washington D.C. – thus providing exposure to these job hubs and their available, expansive opportunities.

As a final thought, I think that while these results tell the tale of lots of Penn Undergraduates pursuing these large money-making industries post-graduation, this should certainly not bar you from pursuing a major or a career that you love. You only get to be young and bold once so live life to the fullest :)

Cheryl Chang

U Penn '24

Cheryl is an adjective. It describes someone whose always bubbly and nice, cheerful and optimistic. Additionally, Cheryl characterizes someone who is a dreamer and a believer. In fact, Cheryl lives by the motto "Anything is possible as long as you believe" by Peter Pan (i think).
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