For years now, college grads have considered it somewhat of a miracle if they found jobs in their career fields. They moved back home with mom and dad, took menial positions while they continued to look, or went on to graduate school, hoping things would improve once a few more years passed and they had a Master’s.
Many in that group are still looking, but the whole picture is beginning to change for the better, as the U.S. economy continues to improve. Employers see a brighter outlook and are now willing to invest in expansion and a larger work force.
While 2017 graduates will not necessarily have a huge range of opportunities, they do know that they are more in demand, and they do know where they want to work – maybe not by specific company but at least by overall environment.
A Comprehensive Survey
A recent survey taken by the National Society of High School Scholars delved into the preferences and forecasts of its members, asking some pretty substantive questions and getting some very interesting, sometimes very unusual, responses.
This organization is an invitation-only one that admits high school students based upon their academic records and recommendations from their teachers.
Once accepted, they are members for life and they are “followed” as they continue through college and into their first career positions. The survey asked more general questions related to the types of organizations and environments students found most appealing and then asked the student to name up to three specific companies for which they would like to work.
Here are their responses.
How do You Intend to Look for a Career Position?
Most students stated that they prefer looking at specific companies’ websites, in order to gain information about the organizations’ missions, goals, career opportunities, and potential for advancement and skill building.
The survey participants appear to want assurances that they can “grow” with a company through the years. Nobody counted on fast and easy money from donated sperm for instance. This is a bit divergent from surveys of years ago when students seem to have less desire to remain with an organization for a long period of time.
It is important as well for this generation to be proud of where they work rather than the figure on their paychecks.
Interestingly, a majority of respondents stated they would not be using LinkedIn for career exploration (only 25% said they would use it), an indication that perhaps this site may be better suited for individuals who are already in established careers and who may be looking to make a change.
This is perhaps important information for employers who may need to “beef up” their company websites so as to attract the best candidates for their openings.
What Type of Environment are You Looking For?
Overwhelmingly, students stated that they want to work for an organization that treats its employees fairly. And this fairness goes well beyond just raises and promotions.
They want companies that understand the importance of a balanced life for their employees, that are have no race, gender, etc. biases, and that evaluate employees on performance rather than company “politics” and the like. They want genuineness.
Another very large factor for the respondents – one which goes along with the value of a balanced life – is the willingness of a company to offer flexible work hours. In fact 70% of those surveyed listed this as highly important.
By contrast, only 46% of the respondents listed base, or starting salary, as highly important. This response is certainly in keeping with the conclusion of other questions that students value growth and skill-building opportunities over pay.
Which Specific Companies are Most Attractive to You?
Each respondent was asked to pick up to three companies for which they would like to work. The results from the 18,000 respondents were then tabulated, and a list of the top 100 companies was devised.
The full list is available on the NSHSS website, but here is a short summary. Four categories of companies made it into the top 25 on the list, as follows:
Tech companies have been among the top contenders for years, probably because students see these companies as more compatible with their desired work environments. While many are fast-paced and demanding, they are, at the same time, more informal and collaborative in atmosphere, do not hold any biases, and are open to such things as flex time.
Among the top companies listed were Google (#1 on the entire list), Microsoft, Intel, Amazon, and Sony, Dream works, and Apple. Dell was also close to the top.
b) Health Care
“Local hospital” was # 6 on the list, but other organizations that made the top 25 included St. Jude’s, Health Care Services Corp (a patient-owned insurance company), the Mayo Clinic, United Health Group, Atlantic Health Services, and Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.
While many jokes have been made about college grads who end up at Starbucks because they cannot find positions in their fields, Starbucks is pretty high on the list of desirable companies for whom to work. Other top retailers included Abercrombie and Fitch and Hershey.
Interestingly, some of the top choices included the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, and, most surprising, the NSA. Given the bad publicity in recent years regarding invasion of privacy on the part of the NSA, this choice was really surprising. While no definitive reason was given for this choice, it appears that two things are at work here.
Some Millennials appear to want to “clean up” the situation and be a part of finding the balance between security and privacy, while others appear to be genuinely concerned for public safety.
Two other companies that appeared toward the top of the list were the New York Times and Disney. Of course, students in journalism fields see the Times as the definitive symbol of great journalism and perhaps the most highly respected newspaper in the world.
No broadcast news agency was in the top 25. Disney has always had a great reputation for treatment of employees, so it would be a natural for one of the top choices (in fact, it was #2).
Millennials are an interesting “breed” of young people. They have pretty definite ideas about their ideal workplace environments, appear to be socially progressive, understand that tech and health care are great fields for the future, and yet have a need, as well, to work for public organizations that protect our domestic and national security.