As new Virginia Tech graduates enter into new careers or continue their academic pursuits, the Career and Professional Development office is reaching out to them to find out where these Hokies alumni are making tracks around the world.

Spring and summer 2020 graduates are encouraged to complete in the First Destination survey, which helps Virginia Tech know how many have gained employment or admission to continuing education and how many still need help in finding their next career or educational prospect.

President Tim Sands and the leadership of Virginia Tech have shared in town hall meetings and public messages their commitment to supporting new graduates and helping them find their way during this unprecedented time.

“Our new graduates are entering a workforce with unprecedented uncertainty and volatility,” said Sands. “Virginia Tech remains committed to supporting them whether they plan to pursue professional opportunities or continue their academic studies. Our graduates are having positive impacts around the world, and knowing more about their achievements and opportunities after graduation helps us guide and support future graduates.”

The First Destination survey, which is administrated through the student’s/graduate’s Handshake accounts, asks for information on the current status of their employment, pursuit of continuing education, or that they are still seeking employment or other opportunities. Donna Ratcliffe, director of Career and Professional Development, encourages all spring and summer graduates to complete the survey now, even if they do not have concrete job or continuing education plans.

“We care about the status of our students, and we can be of assistance to them even if they do not yet have confirmed plans during this challenging time,” said Ratcliffe. “The feedback from our new graduates through the First Destination survey also benefits our current students who meet with our career advisors about job options as they approach graduation. It can help us point them to information about various job titles and companies who hired alumni in their major.”

The survey is normally administered in April prior to spring and summer graduations. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had on employment searches and college admissions processes, Career and Professional Development didn’t feel it was appropriate to survey students/graduates at that time. The revised schedule launched the survey on Aug. 3 with a close date in November.

“We know many new grads use the months after commencement to job search or apply to grad school which is why the survey stays open to six months after commencement,” said Catherine Copeland, associate director for information and operations strategy in Career and Professional Development. “We also want our new graduates to know that CPD is still here to help them. With the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, we know this is a very challenging time to be entering the job market.”

The First Destination survey is designed to take no longer than five minutes for students/graduates to complete, and individual responses are confidential and not shared with anyone. Data and findings from the survey are reported in aggregate and are helpful and well-used by Virginia Tech advisors to guide students and understand what grads do as a first destination. The information collected is also helpful to current students who are still working toward graduation to see the diversity of pursuits and the opportunities around the world being afforded to new graduates.

Information about the First Destination survey, past survey reports, and the support provided by Career and Professional Development is available on their website or by contacting them at 540-231-6241 or

Share this story