WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than a third of recent college graduates (30%) say they had a good job waiting for them when they graduated. When asked for the main reason they characterized their first good job as "good," these recent graduates primarily said it was the pay, followed closely by the mission and purpose of the job.
Among all U.S. college graduates, nearly the same percentages chose purpose and pay as the primary reasons they considered their first good job to be a good one.
|Mission and purpose of the job
|Opportunity to learn skills
|Opportunity to grow at the organization
|Opportunity to do what you do best
|Brand of the organization
|Culture of the organization
|Flexibility of the organization
|Gallup Alumni Survey, 2019
These results are based on interviews with more than 19,000 U.S. college graduates, including approximately 1,600 who graduated between 2010 and 2019.
Three in 10 Recent Grads Had a Good Job Waiting
In addition to the 30% of recent graduates who report having a good job awaiting them upon graduation, another 26% said they found a good job within six months of graduating. About one in six said it took them more than a year to find a good job.
|Had a good job waiting when I graduated
|Two months or less
|Three to six months
|Seven months to a year
|More than a year
|Not applicable because I was not seeking employment upon graduation
|Gallup Alumni Survey, 2019
Gallup research shows that applied learning experiences -- including internships that allow students to put what they are learning in the classroom to practical use in the workplace -- increase the odds that they'll obtain a good job immediately upon graduation.
For many graduates, a "good job" is one that has high mission and purpose; for others, it's primarily about the pay. Regardless of how they define it, what matters more is that they obtain what they believe to be a good job -- because getting one is their principal expectation of higher education, particularly at a time when a college degree is more expensive than ever before.
How can higher education institutions prepare graduates to obtain that good job? Three important experiences remain critical to getting a good job immediately upon graduation, according to Gallup research:
Among these three experiences, the first and second are not accessible to all students. In particular, first-generation college students are less likely to have access to these types of internships and are less likely to know and have connections or access to employers in their field of interest. The third experience -- having conversations with faculty members -- is available to all students and therefore critical to foster and encourage. But these conversations take time and must be prioritized so that faculty understand their importance in relation to the many other expectations of them, including instruction, research, and other priorities and initiatives.
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