What Your College Student May Be Looking for in a Job

We’ve written an earlier post about a 2010 study conducted by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) which investigated college graduates’ attitudes and approaches toward their first post-college jobs.  We suggested that some of the information in that study might help parents understand what their recent graduates faced as well as some interesting topics for conversation with students about their hopes and dreams for jobs.

A 2012 study, this time conducted by Net Impact, adds additional food for thought and topics for understanding and conversation about what current college students, as well as graduates want from employers.  Net Impact, a national organization which hopes to drive positive change in the workplace and the world, helps employees use their careers to tackle social and environmental problems.  This study surveyed 1,726 currently enrolled university students and currently employed college graduates.  The study explored respondents’ life goals, job satisfaction and prioritization for making an impact at work.

Once again, we think some of the information gathered should provide parents of graduates and soon-to-be graduates some important topics to discuss with their students.  We hope that some of the following information from this study will give you some topics for conversation as you discuss your student’s employment choices and satisfaction.

  • 2/3 of graduating university students say that making a difference through their job is a priority.
  • 45% of students say they would take a pay cut in order to have a job where they can make that difference and 58% would take a pay cut to work for an organization with values like their own.
  • When prioritizing factors that are very important or essential to their happiness, students cite financial security (91%), marriage (73%) and a job where they can make an impact (72%) as their top three choices, ranking higher than children (59%), prestigious career (54%), wealth (36%), and community leadership (31%).
  • Students are optimistic about their job prospects and using their career to make a difference.  58% of students expect to have multiple job offers to choose from, and 65% expect to make a positive social or environmental difference in the world.
  • When considering the factors that are essential to an ideal job, the following factors ranked highest for students: positive work culture (91%), job security (90%), good compensation (90%), work/life balance (88%), ability to learn and grow (87%), interesting work (86%).  Lowest  of all factors was working for a prestigious employer (39%).

This study surveyed not only college students, but also millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers (yes, that includes all of us!).  They found that overall the generations were more similar in attitudes toward work than distinct, but there were some differences.

  • Millennials seem more dissatisfied than others with how their company values their input and seeks their opinion.  This may be due, in part, to the fact that they are still early in their careers, or in part because they have been raised to express their opinions openly.
  • There is a decline in civic engagement between Boomers and younger generations.  Only 43% of students reported voting in the last year.
  • Although nearly 70% of all generations feel they have a personal responsibility to make things better for society, an interesting question becomes how the younger generations plan to do this as they show less enthusiasm for traditional civic activities like volunteering, donating money and positive participation.
  • 59% of Boomers believe that mostly, people try to be helpful vs. 36% of millennials, 62% of whom believe that mostly, people are just looking out for themselves.

Numbers and data are, of course, limited.  These are interesting facts, but may not help you get to know your student.  Ask your student how he feels about these findings.  Use the information to begin a conversation.  If working for a company with similar values is important to your student, can he define those values?  How will he determine whether he agrees with a company philosophy?  Ask your student to help you understand what a ”good job” means to him?  Ask him how he hopes to ”make a change in the world?”

We hope you and your student have some wonderful, substantive conversations!

Related Posts:

How Does Your College Student Feel About His First Job?

How the College Career Office Can Help Your College Student

What Do Employers Want From Your College Student? A Liberal Education

College Parents’ Role in the Job or Internship Hunt

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