UNR graduates optimistic about life after graduation

RENO, Nev (KOLO) -- It’s a day that comes every year for university staff and faculty. But for the students in the trenches, it was a long day coming.

"I really worked hard for this," said Paige McKinnon, Masters Graduate.

More than 2,800 University of Nevada, Reno students graduate this week.

"I'm just ready to walk across the stage," said Katie Draughon, a Human Development and Family Studies grad who will attend graduate school

While it was a day to give hugs and take plenty of selfies, the prospect of reality is fast approaching.

Mary T. Calhoon is the Assistant Director with UNR Career Studio. She says the outlook for students is different from when she started in 2013.

"We are seeing more and more students getting to this point feeling more sure about what they are going to do next," said Calhoon.

In a survey started last month and concludes next year, the university reports 73 percent of the 2017 graduates already know what they are doing next. More than half have lined up jobs and almost 20 percent will be going to graduate school.

"They have absorbed the positivity we feel in this state at the moment about the prospect of employment across the board," said Calhoon.

Last year's survey showed 76 percent of the student who graduated stayed in Nevada. Calhoon expects that to continue to grow.

"I'm very optimistic about the future. I think it's so exciting and great and what's there not to be optimistic about," said Michelle Parker, Biotechnology Major who will attend graduate school.

"All my family is here. I love Reno! I love the smaller, but not big town," said Draughon.

In Nevada, a high percentage of graduates are accepting roles in health care, education and public policy. McKinnon graduated with her master's degree in Equity and Diversity and Education.

"There is always a need for teachers. With our current immigration levels, I will be able to teach ESL. So I'm looking at that realm as well," said McKinnon.

Calhoon says internships are a key step for many students entering the workforce. Of the students who completed internships, 27 percent reported they received offers for full-time positions with the same companies

The survey also found 90 percent of those interning found their experience helpful in preparing them for careers.