Barry McNamara  |   Published March 26, 2021

98% Career Outcomes Rate

First Destination Survey results show Monmouth College graduates continue to find success, even during pandemic.

CLASS OF 2020: Monmouth College's most recent graduating class is pictured on the day they st... CLASS OF 2020: Monmouth College's most recent graduating class is pictured on the day they started their undergraduate journey at the 2016 matriculation ceremony.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Despite the pandemic, Monmouth College’s most recent graduates have found success, as 98% of those surveyed are working or in graduate school, according to the results of the school’s annual First Destination Survey.

Within six months of graduation, about four-fifths of those members of the Class of 2020 reported being employed, with the other fifth pursuing graduate studies.

The latter total includes a quartet in Indiana. Monmouth roommates Hadley Smithhisler and Kasha Appleton are at Indiana University, where Smithhisler is studying law and Appleton is seeking a doctorate in history. Bridgette Davey (biophysics) and Emma Hildebrand (law) are at the University of Notre Dame.

The pandemic did have an impact on the survey, according to Marnie Dugan, director of Monmouth College’s Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership and Fellowships.

“Responses for the internship question on the survey were very low,” she said. “While many internships were cancelled last summer, we were also not able to collect this information at our Senior Salute as in years past,” as the pandemic forced the College to send students home for the second half of last year’s spring semester.

‘How to market myself’

Appleton, however, was one of the students who checked the internship box.

“I had a summer internship every year while I was at Monmouth because I was constantly working with the Wackerle Center learning to network, write résumés and cover letters, and sharpen my interview skills,” she said. “The biggest thing the Wackerle Center taught me was how to market myself for graduate school through my course work, jobs and extracurricular activities. I cannot say enough good things about the Wackerle Center and what they helped me accomplish during my time at Monmouth.”

The pandemic also dropped the College’s “knowledge rate” about the Class of 2020 to 63%, down about 20 percentage points from a typical year. It also was the likely cause of an increase in graduates reporting they’re in the midst of a “gap year,” which was classified in the survey as “not seeking.”


Higher salaries

For Class of 2020 graduates who are employed, the news is good. The mean starting salary increased to $46,283, nearly $2,000 more than the national salary for schools with an enrollment under 2,000 students.

“Our graduates are using their Monmouth College experience to impact the world.” Marnie Dugan

Several Monmouth graduates from the Class of 2020 are working in fields related to accounting or finance, including Shaniah Anderson (HON Co.), Michael Bersell (Deere & Co.) and Clark Gaden (Ernst & Young). Other new graduates in the workforce include Anthony Wallace, who is a software developer for Freddie Mac, and Rachel Sitko, who is a project engineer for cGMP Consulting.

“Our First Destination report for the class of 2020 continues to show that Monmouth College graduates are moving on to meaningful work and graduate school experiences, as well as serving and educating in communities all over the world through programs such as Peace Corps, City Year and AmeriCorps,” said Dugan. “Our graduates are using their Monmouth College experience to impact the world.”

Helping them toward those accomplishments is the College’s well-rounded, liberal arts education.

“My history classes at Monmouth taught me how to read carefully and think critically about what I was reading, which I know is helping me read through and understand cases in my law school classes,” said Smithhisler. “Participating in moot court during my time at Monmouth also helped strengthen my interest in law and my ability to speak confidently about the law and craft arguments.”

Scots alumni network

Additionally, Dugan said drawing upon the College’s alumni network and being adaptable helped the grads.

“We really emphasized with the Class of 2020 the opportunity to utilize their network to grow their network,” she said. “I think that benefited a lot of students – the ability to engage with our alumni network.”

For others, keeping “an open mind” during the pandemic was key.

“Things may not have looked exactly like they intended, or it may not have been their first job as they envisioned,” said Dugan. “But they had the ability to pivot and be adaptable and adjust their search, knowing the trends on which industries were hiring. I think our students adapted to what was happening around them.”

“We really emphasized with the Class of 2020 the opportunity to utilize their network to grow their network. I think that benefited a lot of students – the ability to engage with our alumni network.” Marnie Dugan

Monmouth is considered a “small school” in national First Destination rankings. That size allows the Wackerle Center to give special attention to students seeking help with applications for jobs or graduate school.

“We’re able to work one-on-one with the students and really get to know them and personalize things,” said Dugan. “For example, I helped a student who was applying to a position in Oregon and wanted to reach out to alumni we had there. I also spend a lot of time helping our pre-med students prep for med school interviews. A lot of the work we do is simply helping students be the best version of themselves – helping them build their confidence, helping them recognize and understand the work they’ve done.”

Smithhisler said that was true for her.

“While I was preparing to apply to law school, Marnie put me in contact with several Monmouth alums who attended law school, and that networking gave me a better idea of what type of law school I wanted to attend and what I should emphasize in my applications,” said Smithhisler. “I also worked one-on-one with her to create an honest, unique personal statement. I can’t thank Marnie, Jenny (Sanberg) and Jake (McLean) enough for their help on application materials and my post-graduation plans.”

Listen Up …

Marnie Dugan discusses results from the First Destination Survey on the 1853 Podcast.

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