EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s graduation weekend at Michigan State University for more than nine thousand students, and the pandemic has made this graduating class like none other before.

The first of several ceremonies started Friday morning.

Students are walking across the stage at the Breslin and Wharton Centers as well as the MSU Auditorium all weekend.

Another key difference about this year’s commencement ceremonies? No masks are required.

As a new class of MSU graduates start a new chapter, the big question is: what’s next?

“I have a lot of great friends here that we have kind of supported each other through the whole pandemic with all the online classes,” said grad Hailey Bond. “Luckily our clubs could go on during all that.”

Approximately, 9,601 MSU students are graduating this weekend.

Many of which are have already found a job while others are still looking for the right fit. Officials with the university said that right fit should be easy to find, as graduates enter a desperate hiring market.

In fact, job openings have nearly doubled in the last two years.

The university’s online job board had about ninety thousand postings in the spring of 2019 compared to nearly one hundred and seventy thousand this spring.

That’s good news for the state, as officials said between 60 and 65% of MSU students will stay in the Great Lakes State.

“My friends are going into the private sector. They’re moving into Detroit, I know a couple of people are moving out of state, Cleveland area,” said grad Mason Manuszak. “So yeah, I think everyone is moving on, or getting ready to move on and start the next chapter.”

But even with ample jobs to choose from, some students plan to continue their education.

That’s a trend that’s on the rise.

Data from MSU’s Career Services Network shows in 2019, 24% of graduating students said they were attending a graduate program.

In 2020, that number jumped to a little over 28%, and was at 26% with the class of 2021.

Bonds said she’s looking to take her experience in neuroscience to Ohio before starting grad school.

“Currently, I’m working in my gap year at the DLPD Registry at Cincinnati Children’s,” said Bonds.

Data for the class of 2022 is just being collected and university officials said data will be finalized by fall.

As to where gradates who leave the state go, Illinois ranks high on the list from 2019 to 2021.