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William & Mary ranked No. 1 for fostering service careers

  • Supporting service-minded students
    Supporting service-minded students  One of the things that the university offers to support students who are interested in pursuing service careers is the Cohen Career Center's "Making a Living Making a Difference" initiative, which offers speakers, site visits, workshops and more.  Courtesy photo
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William & Mary had more graduates enter service careers over the first decade of the new millennium than any other national university, according to a recent report by the Aspen Institute and Washington Monthly.

The report, which lists the top 50 national universities and top 50 liberal arts colleges for service careers, was created using LinkedIn data from 2000 to 2010 to determine the percentage of graduates reporting government and non-profit positions as their first and second jobs following graduation.

William & Mary tops the national university listing with 32.1 percent of its graduates reporting government and non-profit sector positions for their first and second jobs. George Washington University is second with 31.1 percent, followed by University of Chicago (30.1), Brandeis University (28.2) and Brown University (27.3).

“Students come to William & Mary expecting to find meaning and purpose in their work. They develop the passion and skillset in the community and in the classroom. This report is evidence our graduates are indeed changing the world,” said Drew Stelljes, assistant vice president for student engagement and leadership and director of the Office of Community Engagement.

“It is our shared vision to create an engaging learning environment where community is strengthened, students flourish and our graduates have the skills to enjoy meaningful careers,” he added.

Among liberal arts colleges in the report, the United States Naval Academy takes the number one spot with 88.5 percent of its graduates going on to service careers. The United States Military Academy at West Point follows with 87 percent, followed by Grinnell College (41.2), Swarthmore College (37.8) and Smith College (37.1).

An article on the report, which appears in the November/December edition of Washington Monthly magazine, cites William & Mary’s support for students just getting into service careers as one of the reasons for the university’s success.

“At William & Mary, community engagement grants and yearlong post-graduation fellowships provide students with funding to participate in high-impact programs around the world,” the article says.

William & Mary students complete approximately 300,000 hours of service each year through opportunities made available by the Office of Community Engagement, the Sharpe Community Scholars Program and various other programs and organizations. For example, students learn about social entrepreneurship careers at the Mason School of Business, which hosts an annual conference, SEcon, on the topic. Students are also encouraged to become engaged citizens throughout their lives during the annual Active Citizens Conference, which brought together 270 students, faculty, staff and non-profit organization members from 40 colleges across the country this year.

At the Cohen Career Center, students are prepared to enter careers of service through its “Making a Living Making a Difference” initiative, which includes guest speakers on campus, site trips to Washington D.C., a government and nonprofit career symposium and the “Management Skills for Public Service” workshop series.

In June, William & Mary signed on as one of five lead institutions for the 21st Century National Service Action Plan during the 21st Century National Service Summit in Aspen, Colo., sponsored by the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project. The action plan challenges young adults to commit to one year of full-time service work following college.

The service careers report is the latest in a series of positive rankings on which the university has found itself this year. In fact, this spring, the W&M Law School topped of a similar ranking. The National Law Journal created a list of 20 law schools with the highest percentage of 2012 graduates in government and public interest jobs. With 34.3 percent of its Class of 2012 in such jobs, W&M Law School ranked at number one on that list, followed by the George Washington University School of Law (32.5 percent), Florida State University's College of Law (30.4), the City University of New York School of Law (27) and the University of South Dakota School of Law (26.3).

In September, William & Mary was listed as the top public university in the nation for a “strong commitment to undergraduate teaching” (tied for third overall behind only Dartmouth College and Princeton University) in U.S. News and World Report’s annual listing of top colleges. And, just a few weeks ago, the Center for Public Anthropology included William & Mary in its faculty impact rankings. William & Mary was listed at number six in that report – the only university in Virginia ranked in the top 10. This new ranking looks at the degree to which faculty research in the social sciences is mentioned in public media sources and is based on the number of faculty members cited in the Google News archive from 2006-2011. Rice University, Southern Methodist University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were ranked first, second and third, respectively.