After graduation: Most Utes stay in Utah

After graduation, many students are left with the lingering question, “Where to go from here?” Although there are a number of career opportunities in Utah, not all students want to or can stay in-state.

Approximately 60 percent of U graduates stay in-state, and two-thirds of graduates staying in state live along the Wasatch Front, according to the U Alumni Association. Chapters throughout Utah and the country connect U alumni.

“We’ve found that there are large numbers of alumni all along the West and East Coast,” said John Fackler, director of alumni relations.

Some students leave Utah because they get jobs elsewhere.

“Certain jobs will take students out of state,” said Dana Sowby, a career counselor for the U’s Career Services. “Other students just want to leave.”

Many students come from out of state for school but then leave afterward, Sowby said, and others hate cold weather and want to go south.

Daniel Ray, a junior in political science, came to Utah from Seattle to study at the U and plans on moving to another state after graduation.

“The weather in Seattle isn’t as extreme as Utah,” he said. “(Utah’s weather is) not for me.”

Fackler said U graduates who stay in-state are an asset to the U. It gives them more opportunities to stay connected to the U and support academic and sports programs.

Some students have more personal reasons for moving out of Utah after graduation. Not only are there better opportunities in finance, but the people in Utah are ridiculous, said Spencer Critchett, a junior in finance.

“The people here are a joke,” said Tyler Koehler, a senior in economics. “I’m not kidding. Every day, I get fire-powered to get out of here…ignorance is off the chart in Utah.”

Others seem willing to stay in-state to be near family or because of its natural beauty.

After growing up on the East Coast, Julia Summerhays, a doctoral candidate in health promotion and education, said she likes living in Utah where she has “mountains in (her) backyard.”

“I’m pretty sure there are job opportunities for me in Utah,” she said. “If not, the joke is that I’ll end up working at Starbucks with a doctorate degree.”

The state makes a concerted effort to convince students with degrees in high demand areas, such as engineering, to stay in Utah.

Since former Gov. Mike Leavitt challenged Utah schools to double the number of engineering graduates in 2001, Utah has worked with the U and other universities to stimulate economic development and create more job opportunities for engineering students.

Utah legislature proposed the creation of the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative to recruit world-renowned scientists to the U and Utah State University and bring with them businesses and innovative technological ideas.

“The state wants us to use funding to target new faculty that would pull their companies to Salt Lake City and train students to create new businesses that stay in Utah,” said David Grainger, a U professor in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Despite the recent trend toward promoting business development in Utah, U engineering graduates might wish to travel out of state for higher pay and better career opportunities, said Jim White, assistant director for career services.

“We have a really good area in Utah for biotech and bioengineering, but some jobs will take graduates to other locations,” he said.

Ryan Davis, a sophomore in bioengineering at the U, said he believes that he will move out of Utah after graduation.

“I think the opportunities are a lot greater out-of-state,” he said. “There are a lot of companies back East I’d be interested in working for. If I did stay in Utah, it would be to stay close to my family.”

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