Off and Running—98% of Class of 2021 Find Opportunities Within Six Months of Graduation

The backs of four class of 2021 graduates that have their arms around each other. A mortarboards reads Life Finds A Way
Image credit: Kayana Szymczak
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From working at a biotech company, to preparing for medical school, to creating a vibrant arts program at a historic amusement park, members of Wellesley’s class of 2021 are already well on their way to making a difference. Ninety-eight percent were employed, enrolled in graduate school, engaged in a volunteer experience, or serving in the military six months after graduation, as reported in Career Education’s Class of 2021 First Destination Report.

Nearly 73 percent of the class of 2021 were employed in fields including consulting, business, and finance; health care and life sciences; internet, software, technology, and engineering; education; and nonprofits and NGOs.

Health care was the largest industry growth area from 2020 to 2021, and the combined STEM and health care cluster now outpaces business, consulting, and finance. Almost 34 percent of students went into STEM and health care in 2021, up from 27 percent in 2020. “This trend is something we’ve been watching for several years and has been heightened by the pandemic,” says Jennifer Pollard, executive director and associate provost of Career Education. “When the great resignation happened, employers looked to recent graduates to partially fill the void and invested more heavily in early career training. This trend has opened access for many of our students to enter fast-growing fields and continues to reinforce the value employers place on our students’ adaptability and eagerness to learn.”

Izabelle Fernandez ’21 is an associate in the Process Development Rotational Program (PDRP) at the biotech company Genentech, an opportunity she learned about through the biochemistry, biology, and chemistry departments at Wellesley.

“I really love the chance I have to explore departments within the organization through six-month assignments before I decide where I want to work full time,” says Fernandez. “This was important for me because although I knew I loved science coming out of Wellesley, I wasn’t totally sure yet what niches I wanted to occupy. There was a lot of exploring I wanted to do.” As part of PDRP, Fernandez has connected with department heads and senior scientists to figure out her research interests. “I love the science-first and collaborative culture,” she says. “I have great support and mentors, and I love the research work that surrounds me!”

Molly Mann ’21 is also pursuing a STEM career. She will be starting at Tufts University School of Medicine in August and plans to specialize inOB/GYN. “After my time at Wellesley, I love the idea of working with a patient population entirely made up of women/people with female anatomy, and women’s/reproductive health is a huge passion of mine,” she says.

“Our students are eager to engage in issues the world faces today, making the health care and STEM fields increasingly more attractive,” says Pollard. “They see what’s going on in the world and they want to jump in and make a difference—it’s one of the best qualities of their generation. It’s exciting to watch them enter many industries where women are traditionally underrepresented and look for ways to make a positive impact.”

Mann is also grateful for the help and support provided by her fellow Wellesley alums as she has figured out her path this past year: “The Wellesley network is truly remarkable. For anyone transitioning from the ‘Wellesley Bubble’ to the ‘real world,’ I would highly recommend taking advantage of this network of lovely people who are so eager to lend a helping hand.”

Members of the class of 2021 are making a positive impact in all kinds of industries and have adapted to working in a variety of places, including some unexpected venues. Clara Ferrari ’21, for example, is working at Glen Echo Park, a former amusement park in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that is now a National Park and home to a variety of thriving arts programs, through the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. “I had no idea that my political science degree from Wellesley would lead me back here, and I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m glad to be here,” she says. “The park is unique due to its civil rights history. Howard University students were arrested while conducting a sit-in on the carousel in 1960, which spurred a summer of protests against segregation and eventually brought the case to the Supreme Court.”

Ferrari had worked seasonally at Glen Echo Park between semesters at Wellesley, running the historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel, and after graduating, she landed a year-round position as assistant operations manager. “I have taken on new responsibilities with marketing campaigns, gotten more deeply involved in event planning, [and] been able to sit in on master planning processes with our board of directors, and I am looking forward to further exploration of this nonprofit arts management world as the busy summer approaches,” she says.

Almost 99 percent of Wellesley graduates from the class of 2021, regardless of what they are pursuing, describe their outcome as an opportunity to engage in meaningful work. “I am so impressed by how well our newest graduates are doing,” President Paula A. Johnson said. “It speaks to the incredible student support offered across campus, our incredible alumnae network, and of course, our talented, brilliant, and driven students.”