How are 2017 College Grads Feeling About Their Future Careers?

Published Mon Jun 05 00:00:00 EDT 2017

By David Levin, President and CEO


David Levin shares student perspectives from the 2017 Future Workforce Survey by McGraw-Hill Education.

It’s graduation season. Over the next couple of months, nearly two million college seniors and graduate students will earn degrees and venture forth into the next chapter of their lives.

For many, that means starting a career.

Looking back at my own experience as a graduate many years ago, I clearly recall the dual feelings of excitement and anxiety. Will I be able to find the kind of job I want? Will I succeed? Where will this adventure of life lead me?

I have no doubt that many of these two million soon-to-be graduates will have the same sort of thoughts. And today, accurately predicting one’s future career is arguably harder than ever before. A 2013 study estimated that 65% of children entering grade school will ultimately work in jobs that don’t exist today.

The workforce that today’s college students are preparing to enter is rapidly evolving due to automation, globalization and many other factors.

Do college students feel prepared? We asked them – 5,354 of them, to be precise.

Here are a few things we learned from the McGraw-Hill Education Future Workforce Survey:

  1. Only 44 percent of college seniors feel very prepared for their careers. And they feel more prepared with skills like communication, teamwork and critical thinking, and less so with technical skills, presentation skills and in networking.

  2. We asked all students to choose from a list the top three factors that would make them feel most fulfilled in their careers. The three most common answers were: a good work/life balance, attractive salary and benefits, and opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.

  3. We asked them about their highest priority in choosing a career. A plurality (42 percent) said finding a career that provides a comfortable life. Next, 30 percent said they wanted to have an impact on the world or on people’s lives. Only 7 percent prioritized making “as much money as possible.”

  4. Similarly to last year, men are slightly more likely to feel very prepared than women. And women are more likely to take advantage of on-campus resources like career advisors, job boards, resume support and interview help.

We clearly still have a long way to go toward providing students with both the skills and confidence they need to make the transition from college to career.

And as we, as employers, evolve to support and nurture the future workforce, it’s important to listen to what they’re telling us: We need to create cultures that provide employees with a balance between work and life. We need to provide flexible schedules. And we need to create a culture where employees are able to continually learn and grow.

The report provides a many insights for us all to reflect and act upon.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on May 8, 2017 and can be viewed here.