Graduation marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one for college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 1.9 million students will graduate in 2019. We tracked down 5 of those nearly 2 million students to discuss what’s next.
Although our sample size was rather small, we found that each interviewee has carved out a unique career path based on their differing majors and goals which, in turn, has shaped what’s most important to them in their first full-time position after graduation. Despite these differing career paths, there are 4 common factors that heavily influence which job they will take: Culture, Candidate Experience, Growth Opportunities, and Compensation.
The most important factor across the board was company culture. “I decide whether a company is a good fit for me by seeing the team environment and office culture,” says Christine C. “I want to be able to see myself working well with the team and growing with the company.”
For Maria H. – a new grad focused on developing the skills necessary for a career in the virtual reality field – company culture comes down to the mission of the company and the values that they embody. “I’m really looking for a place whose mission and values align with my own and that makes me passionate about my work.” Additionally, she’s looking for a company close to home that can provide job security.
When we spoke to Courtney, it was clear that candidate experience plays a big role in shaping her opinion of a company. Since she isn’t looking for anything specific right now – her focus is saving up for grad school – she wants a job that’ll allow her to gain work experience as she figures out exactly what she wants to do. As a result, her search is fairly broad which is why her experience throughout the interview process is a key data point in her evaluation process.
Fresh out of the classroom, most new grads are eager to continue learning. Take for example, Christine, an aspiring Geographic Information Systems Manager who already has a clear growth path in mind: “I see myself adding more certifications and trainings to my resume, and always challenging myself every day, going from GIS technician to GIS analyst to eventually some sort of manager position.”
For Maria A, a graduating mechanical engineer, growth comes when she is challenged to step outside her comfort zone. “I’m looking for a place where I can grow, where my opinions matter, and where I get a chance to be challenged daily.” We found this to be a common sentiment among the new grads we spoke with– without challenging and engaging work, they feel their growth is stunted.
Victoria currently has a job in Social Media Marketing, but is intrigued by Experiential Marketing. “Social media is a good stepping stone to see what works for different audiences,” she told us, “but a project I would like to work on in the future is creating an immersive circus experience as a marketing branding event.” She’s looking for an employer that puts a lot of trust in it’s employee’s creative direction and promotes self-initiative.
A company tackling complex challenges with clear growth opportunities and room to step outside the everyday job description would make it high on the list for Christine, Maria, and Victoria.
Maria A. has decided to stay at her current company. However, she’s still looking around for other opportunities to ensure that her current salary is competitive and as a potential means to drive it up. Long term, she envisions herself becoming a Lead Engineer. When comparing competing offers, deciding factors for her will be salary, growth opportunities, and company size.
Some notable perks that came up in each interview are work happy hours & events, flexible schedules, gym memberships, the ability to work from home, and commuter benefits– nice-to-haves that may be able to sway new grads between competing offers. These benefits help to paint a picture of company culture and help new grads imagine what their life may look like after graduation.
Each new grad’s job search is personalized to their specific goals for the future. For many, the job application process helps them discover and define what they want out of their first job.
For recruiters, this is a great opportunity to truly invest in candidate experience – from the first moment of contact to day one on the job and beyond. At each stage of the interview process, recruiters and hiring managers should emphasize the opportunities for growth and development, the mission and values your company embodies, and the many ways you strive to take care of your employees. If you can communicate the value of the role, your company, and your culture, then you are setting yourself up for a home run!