Of course, the best answer to the question of how your college student feels about his first job is to ask him. Every student is different. Every student has different goals and ambitions, different strategies, different needs. Hopefully, as your student has maneuvered his way through his college career, you’ve had opportunities to talk about his dreams and ambitions, and about the realities he will face when he hits the job market.
In spite of all of the individual differences, however, there are trends today in college graduates’ attitudes and approaches toward their first post-college job. If you haven’t already had some conversations with your college student about his career thinking, some of the following information may be a good beginning point for discussion. This information comes from the 2010 annual survey of college students conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Between February and April of 2010, NACE surveyed more than 12,000 graduating seniors at over 400 colleges throughout the United States. Here are some of the things that they found.
- The percentage of students planning on continuing their education directly after college exceeds 27%. (In 2007, when more jobs were available, the percentage was closer to 20%.)
- The percentage of students planning on looking for jobs in teaching and nonprofits has also grown to 21% from 17% a year ago.
- The percentage of students considering private, for-profit business positions declined from 39% a year ago to 36%.
- Although there may be fewer jobs available to graduating seniors, the percentage of students who had jobs at graduation time increased (59% compared to 45 % a year ago), suggesting that students may be more willing to accept the offers they have received.
- Slightly more than 24% of students had a job secured by mid spring of their senior year (the time of the survey).
- Students with certain majors continue to receive more offers and higher salaries. These areas include, Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Social Science.
- Students continue to search for jobs in the same way as in previous years: visiting company websites (93%), checking job postings on company web sites (87%), networking with friends or relatives (86%), attending career fairs (81%), and checking the college career center web site (80%).
- Students’ willingness to work more than 40 hours per week on the job has declined from 87% in previous years to 83% in 2010.
- The four most important job/employer attributes for students this year were the opportunity to advance, the company’s location, job security, and a high starting salary.
This is a difficult and stressful time for college seniors who are entering the job market. Jobs in some areas are more difficult to find. Students often graduate with significant financial obligations for their college loans. Students are making decisions based on a number of factors. If you haven’t been talking to your college student about her career thoughts, now is a good time to get started. If your student is a senior, it’s a logical topic of conversation. But even if your student is an underclassman, open the subject now, begin to help your student think about her options and priorities.