Downtown Phoenix a ‘little pond’ for graduates to thrive in

Many ASU graduates continue to work in downtown after receiving their diplomas. (Kristy Westgard/DD)

With university students across the state donning their cap and gowns next week for spring commencement, many soon to be graduates will soon be entering the workforce—be that in Arizona, or out.

There are more than 448,000 graduates of Arizona State University in total. According to ASU’s Alumni Association, the majority of these graduates will stay in-state to work after graduation.

Studies from the University of Arizona show the same trend: Arizona graduates tend to stay in the state after graduation.

“Of those who graduate, about 62 percent will go on to pursue full-time work in-state,” said Lucas Schalewski, a student affairs data analyst at UA.

Schalewski said that this estimate didn’t include students who went on to work part-time jobs in-state, which would increase the number even more.

After graduating in 2015, Katie-Lee Faulkner, a Cronkite alumni, decided to stay in Phoenix and take a year off from her career endeavors.

“I decided to work at restaurants and save a lot of money to travel,” Faulkner said.

After her break, Faulkner returned to the work force with ease after she transitioned her internship with Highway Twenty into a full-time gig with the company, which went on to become Casual Astronaut.

Faulkner said she’s grateful that she remained in state after graduation, having talked to friends who have had difficulties after moving to bigger cities, where labor markets are more aggressive.

“In Phoenix, it’s easy to be a big fish in a little pond,” Faulkner said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Phoenix’s unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, which is the same as the national average. However, the unemployment rate for college grads sits much lower, at 2.5 percent.

As unemployment rates continue to decline, graduates should feel optimistic about their job prospects.

Both Tempe and Scottsdale ranked No. 9 and No. 1, respectively on Business Insider’s list for Best Cities to Find a Job in 2017. Chandler and Gilbert also earned spots on the top 20 list.

Tempe earned its spot due to its workplace accessibility. While Scottsdale earned the highest spot thanks to its employee benefits, access to internships and low transportation costs.

Lauren Potter, an ASU alumnus, works for Downtown Phoenix Inc. and said she had good luck finding a job after school. Potter, who is from Australia, said she received offers to work out of state, but felt that her talents were better suited for downtown Phoenix.

“I feel like I can be part of something and help tell a story,” Potter said. “It’s constantly evolving and changing and there’s a lot of opportunity.”

Arizona State University graduates have a leg up, according to Times Higher Education, which places the university amongst the top 10 schools for graduate employability last year.

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