College Graduates Are Increasingly Seeking Nontraditional Jobs Away from Corporate America

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Where do new college graduates want to work? A few years ago, the answer would have been simple. Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon with their unique benefits and growing profit margins were the ideal to many. Things are changing. Millennials and younger generations continue to want more out of their career path. So, where are college graduates, diploma in hand, now heading?

Today’s Students Are Exploring Non-Corporate Jobs

While working on Wall Street or at a technology company still attracts some new graduates, there’s a growing number seeking jobs outside these typical paths. Professionals across a wide range of academic backgrounds are moving toward careers in more altruistic or aspirational organizations like with UNICEF or the National Institutes of Health or even Doctors Without Borders. Some are also pursuing government careers, such as in the US State Department, skipping over a typical job in the traditional sense.

A study by Universum provides some insight. After surveying students that run the gamut, from humanities to natural sciences to engineering, they learned these students preferred non-business employers. In short, they’re pursuing degrees in the same areas of interest … but looking for new and more interesting ways to use them with organizations that understand the value of that kind of academic diversity.

Another study comes from Accenture, where they discovered students trending toward wanting to work in startups or mid-sized organizations. In 2016, they found that only 14 percent of new college graduates wanted to work in the traditional big companies. In 2013, this number was 20 percent.

But, Why Is It Happening?

Why do students increasingly want to work away from typical job paths? Some of these students argue they don’t align with the stereo-typical Corporate American system … that they don’t like big business. Another reason, and Millennials are leading the trend, is that they are more interested in doing more for the work than their parents did. They want to commit to it. And, they are seeking companies they can stand behind both to support themselves and to support the community around them. In other words, these generations of workers are looking for companies who can provide them with more than just monetary rewards.

In the Universum survey, for example, 48 percent of those who responded say they wanted to “serve the greater good” as a key component of their work after they graduated. Maintaining a good work and life balance was important to 61 percent, higher than previous generations.

In the Accenture survey, we find a similar but slightly different reason. Here, individuals wanted to enter jobs where they could immediately have a direct impact. They wanted to play a bigger role sooner both in terms of helping their company and aiding customers. Big employers lack this type of incentive.

What Matters to 2018 College Graduates?

It all comes down to defining what the college graduate wants and needs when he or she leaves school. As noted, they are less likely to seek out positions in big companies. And, they want to make a bigger impact. But, where and how?

This Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study provides some insight with the following key findings. On workers, they found:

  • 93 percent want to work for a company that cares about them personally
  • 74 percent want a job that allows them to make a positive impact
  • 64 percent (estimated) want the ability to blend work and personal lives in a more cohesive manner
  • 70 percent are likely to be loyal to a company that allows them to contribute to important issues
  • 51 percent do not want to work for a company that lacks social and environmental commitments

It’s clear today’s college graduate wants more from their employer than the typical paycheck and a 9-to-5 workday. They want to work with a company capable of not just providing personal benefits but also benefits the local community and the world in general. These opportunities are important, and even essential, to new college graduates.

What Perks and Benefits Matter When it Comes to Taking on These Positions?

Many of today’s college graduates are looking for opportunities to work with companies doing “more” than just earning profits. The upcoming working class is looking for other types of benefits, including working with an organization that …

  • Focuses on improving society in some way — United Nations’ positions, for example, allows them to contribute to improving the world
  • Offers a unique and valuable role in the community — companies that give back
  • Shares their environmental-friendly lifestyle and healthy lifestyle
  • Delivers support programs for taking care of their families and lets them spend more time at home
  • Provides a strong workplace culture that is diverse … one designed to ensure good communication

College graduates believe they can find these benefits more readily available in non-profits and governmental institutions than in Corporate America. And, as a result, more of them are turning to these employers to obtain the career path they desire, often leaving big companies scrambling to pull in top talent. Today’s generation of new college graduates, soon to be Generation Z, are likely to change the path of where students can go with such degrees even those in typical business curriculums.

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