April 23, 2020
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The career paths pursued by nearly 11,000 Kenyon alumni are illustrated in an interactive image that shows the relationship between professions and academic majors.
The image looks at alumni who graduated during the 30-year period between 1979 and 2010, with each graduate represented by an arc connecting a major on the left with a career category on the right.
“In one quick visual that’s easy to understand, we can give everyone an impression of what’s happening with all of our graduates,” Brad Hartlaub, associate provost and professor of mathematics and statistics, said.
According to the image, each major at Kenyon produces graduates who work in multiple industries. For example, English, the most popular major representing 17 percent of alumni, connects to every industry, with the most graduates pursuing careers in writing and communication, education, law, and sales. While biology majors, representing 6 percent of alumni, point to every industry, the majority of the program’s graduates land jobs in health and medicine.
"During a time when many are questioning the value of liberal arts degrees, this data shows that Kenyon students are not bound by their undergraduate studies to one particular field,” Provost Joseph Klesner said. “Instead, they graduate with opportunities in many occupations, which will benefit them over and over again as they take new jobs in fields that may not even exist at the time they leave Kenyon."
The image provides a snapshot of where alumni were working in 2014, when the data was collected.
Hartlaub plans to update the data in five years to include graduates after 2010 and to track changes in alumni professions.
Eventually, Hartlaub hopes to expand the project to look at other liberal arts trends. “What we’d really like to see is the arc of the Kenyon experience,” he said. “If you start in the finance profession, do you stay there forever? Now that people are pursuing several careers in their lifetime, they need a liberal arts background to help them adapt to the changing environment.”
Hartlaub guided the project, which used data gathered by Kenyon administrators and an algorithm developed by a student research team at Williams College. After partnering with Kenyon, the team, led by Satyan Devadoss, professor of mathematics at Williams, created the company CereusData to visualize data for other academic institutions and businesses.
The company’s work has been recognized by Business Insider, Forbes, Kiplinger and Washington Monthly. Bill Conerly of Forbes wrote, “The Williams visualization reinforces my advice: You may be a philosophy major, but you should get ready for responsibility that will require you to understand financial data, statistics and information technology.”