Alumni Survey Results Are In

Ninety-seven percent of Cal Poly Journalism graduates who responded to the department’s recent alumni survey reported being satisfied (35%) or very satisfied (62%) with their journalism education.

By Yasel Hurtado

Nearly 90% of respondents were employed within six months of graduating, with 41% getting a job in their senior year.

More than 250 alumni whose graduation years spanned the decades from the 1960s through 2020 participated in the department’s comprehensive survey of graduates in Fall 2020.

Another noteworthy result? Ninety-three percent identified social media platforms-- which did not even exist 20 years ago -- as a technology that is important (33%) or very important (60%) to their profession.

Other survey highlights:


  • For 64% of respondents, Cal Poly was their top university choice, with passion for their subject and preparation for a successful, fulfilling career being the most highly-ranked factors in deciding to enroll. Cal Poly’s academic quality and reputation was another popular factor.
  • The majority of respondents graduated with a specialty in public relations. About half chose to pursue a variety of minors, ranging from Law and Society to Psychology, Religious Studies, Child Development, and more. Only 2% of respondents were double majors.
  • The majority (81%) participated in student media: 82% participated in the student newspaper, 53% in KCPR and 30% in TV. 25% participated in PRSSA.

Post Graduation

  • 65% of respondents said Cal Poly prepared them very well for their current career. The skills that respondents identified as most important in their professions: leadership and team management, ethics, fact checking, professional networking and information/media literacy.
  • 69% of respondents were employed full time at the time of the survey: 33% at mid-level in their employee ranking. Almost all respondents used skills gained from their journalism background at their first job after graduation. 34% found their jobs on a website or print advertisement.
  • 46% of respondents sought additional training in leadership and team management after graduating. The majority also said that internships in or immediately after college had been most valuable to their career.
  • Despite the fact that social media barely existed 15 years ago, respondents said it is one of the most important aspects of their career.
  • In addition to social media, alumni identified responding to audience questions/comments (87%) and audio/video storytelling (85%) as important or very important platforms and technologies in their careers, followed by using digital tools to verify information (85%) and content management systems (86%).

Career Breakdown

Alumni Survey Chart

Highlights of the career breakdown of respondents:

  • 13% of graduates work in advertising/marketing/public relations.
  • 10% work for a tech or social media companies.
  • 10% work in TV media.
  • 5% work in newspaper media.
  • 5% work in radio media.


  • 26% of respondents were the first person in their family to attend college.
  • 70% of respondents entered Cal Poly as freshmen; 30% transferred from a community college or another university.
  • 64% identified as female, 35% male, 1% non-binary or transgender.
  • 85% identified as white, 9% Latinx, 3% Asian, 3% Multiracial, 1% Arab, 0.5% Indigenous, 0.5% Black, 0.5% Pacific Islander.
  • Only 29% of respondents live outside of California.


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