Editor’s note: Curious New Mexico is a New Mexico News Port journalism project that lets the readers ask the questions for reporters to answer. Melody Daskalos asked how many UNM students are getting jobs after graduation.

The majority of UNM students are not joining the workforce following graduation, according to data from UNM’s Office of Career Service. Jenna Crabb, UNM’s director for career services, said colleges and potential employers have begun to encourage students to get experience in their respected field instead of solely obtaining a degree and expecting a job.

Only about a third of the 2014 fall graduates participated in UNM’s exit survey, claimed to have a full-time job readily available. Of the 2,542 eligible graduates, 410 partook in UNM’s exit survey.

Of those 410 individuals, 23 percent listed they are still in search of employment, just over five percent stated they have found part-time work, and only six percent are returning to the classroom in order to continue their education.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 16.8 percent of college graduates were listed as underemployment, which represents part-time work or work not in their respected field in 2014. However, only 8.5 percent were listed as unemployed.

“Employers are really wanting you to have experience. You’ve got to prove to them that you have experience in the field,” Crabb said. “That I think is one biggest thing that pushes from our office, is helping students get those experiences.”

Junior radiological science major Mario Quintana said the experience he gets doing clinical work is the most helpful. He said UNM could do more by providing foot-in-the-door connections. He said he would like to be introduced to more people during the required internship work he goes through for his classes.

“I would think a lot of professional contacts would probably help me to get a job through connections,” Quintana said.

By getting experience in the field, people will be able to make professional connections, which is a major portion for any job search. Accessing personal contacts was the second-highest job search method for students who graduated in the fall of 2014. The number one resource people turned to when pursuing their job hunt from the fall 2014 class was employer website advertisement.

Slu Maldonado-Stone, a senior in design for performance, said networking is vital to make it in the theater world.

“In the theater industry it’s more about who you know,” Maldonado-Stone said. “So trying to network and meet as many people within the industry is important.”

Although only 16 percent of graduates responded to the University’s exit survey, Crabb said her department has done a much better job with a revamped system of reaching out to those who graduate.

Colleges across the nation are only averaging a 10 percent response rate from eligible graduates, according to Crabb. She said UNM shouldn’t be satisfied with reaching the 10 percent plateau. Crabb said the University used to rank among the national average, but has excelled at reaching students in the recent past.

Career Services incorporated a new system of immersing the department’s exit questions with the exit surveys of each individual college at UNM which has provided a boost in the number of participants in the early stages of the new survey system. The new system not only will provide a larger sample, but the data will directly correlate to each college at the University of New Mexico.

“Our biggest challenge is trying to get the colleges to buy into getting this data,” Crabb said. “They love the data; the colleges love it. But we need the colleges to require it.”

Individuals often turn to their alma mater for careers after graduation. UNM and UNM Hospital were both listed as a top employer for University of New Mexico graduates in both the fall and the spring of 2014.

“We’re lucky because UNM is always a big employer,” Crabb said. “We have a ton of students that stay on at UNM and work.”

UNM hosts an annual job fair in hopes to entice students to find potential work while in school in addition to post-graduation. In 2012-13, 5,039 students attended the fair but only 3,323 showed in 2013-14.

Raghu Nathsrinibasagan was one of the attendees in his first semester at UNM. He is working towards his master’s degree in business administration and said he has needed some assistance with networking in his first year in the United States. The India native said UNM has helped guide him, especially with the internship fairs to help him get accumulated to the states and the University.

“Everything is towards getting a job and improving your professionalism,” Nathsrinibasagan said. “...It’s good to network with people and UNM’s a good platform.”

Although the numbers for people attending the job fairs are down, more people are showing up to seek advisement in the Career Services Office. In 2013-2014, there was a 16 percent increase of the grand total of students seen individually from 2012-2013.

Crabb said she encourages students to take advantage of opportunities put on by the University, instead of waiting to the last minute in hopes of finding a job. According to Crabb, the average time it takes for a student to find a job is roughly eight months which is why she encourages individuals to come to her department sooner rather than later.

Liam Cary-Eaves, Thomas Romero-Salas and Aaron Anglin are students in the Department of Communication and Journalism Department. They also work for the Daily Lobo. The New Mexico News Port provided this story.