Statement by the Director on the Impact of the
The Institute is deeply committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for its students. Since its first cohort, which graduated in 2008, the Institute has built a solid reputation in terms of the employability of its graduates. Based on surveys within the university and data from comparable programs at other schools, the Institute has done very well. Its decade-long track record for the rate of job placement and average compensation is well above average.
The Institute facilitates job placement for over 90% of its students. The process begins in mid-January each year, when the Institute opens its doors to employers seeking to interview candidates, and culminates (for most students) in March with the acceptance of job offers. The COVID19 pandemic—and the national emergency declared on March 13th that led to the exodus of students from campus—came at precisely the moment to have the greatest detriment on the final stage of job offers and acceptances.
The 2020 placement season began as normal. Students logged 1,200 initial job interviews by mid-March, compared to 1,300 in recent years. It is with respect to job offers where the impact of the pandemic can be seen most clearly. Offers in March were 25% below the three-year average. Be that as it may, students accumulated nearly 200 offers, in total, with an aggregate dollar value of $19.5 million. The average offer (base salary and signing bonus) was $103,000. While the number of job offers was substantial relative to the number of candidates searching, ultimately the spread of offers across the cohort was below the norm: 83% of students garnered one of more offers, compared to 95% in recent years.
As the economic consequences of the pandemic deepened, employers naturally slowed their hiring activities. From mid-March onward, many employers imposed a hiring freeze. Five students reported having a pending offer put on hold to await approval of a senior executive. Three students accepted job offers that were later rescinded; two were quickly rehired by other employers. International students seeking employment under OPT (11% of the cohort) faired less well, with a 54% placement rate versus 83% for citizens and permanent residents. Growing uncertainty over U.S. immigration policy and the future availability of work visas made the situation even more difficult for non-citizens to find employment.
The Institute is disheartened beyond measure by the way the semester ended. Nonetheless, given the circumstances, it is grateful for what was accomplished. All of our students finished the spring semester to earn their degree while remaining in good health. Four out of five secured employment. Half of those employed realized gains in annual income of 70% or more. Average salaries remained strong. At a time when unemployment sky-rocketed to the highest level in modern history, the Institute is gratified by the success of its students.
Uncertainty in labor markets as a result of the pandemic will present challenges in the years ahead. Until the day when a combination of clinical treatment and vaccines mitigate the threat of the coronavirus to human health, we must deal with the new reality. The Institute has already begun to evaluate every aspect of its placement process to see what changes can be made to improve employment outcomes for students in the Class of ’21 and beyond. The Institute’s past success is attributable, in large part, to being proactive and being able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. The demand for data scientists will continue, even in the most difficult economic times. The Institute is committed to meeting the demand by doing what it does best: producing exceptional talent.
The Institute expresses its gratitude to employers for their steadfast commitment to hiring our students. As for the members of Class of ’20 who continue to search, the Institute will work with them to secure employment in the coming weeks. An addendum to this report will be published in August, 90-days after graduation, to document what is accomplished.
May 16, 2020