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  • Skill Development Is Most Important Job Attribute

    October 18, 2019 | By NACE Staff

    Student Attitudes
    Two interns work on a project.

    TAGS: student attitudes, surveys, nace insights, students

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    Graduating seniors view opportunities to develop their skills—both specific to the job and applied—as the top attributes of their future job, according to NACE’s 2019 Student Survey Report.

    This year’s survey report includes in-depth analysis of the impact of students’ internships on these aspects of their transition from college to work. For the most part, students’ internship experience—whether having paid or unpaid internships, or no internship experience at all—had little impact on their perception of the importance of aspects of their work environment.

    For example, nearly all groups of students cited the opportunity to develop both skills that are applied and specific to the job as the most important attributes of a hypothetical position. Friendly co-workers and job security were also highly important. Meanwhile, they ranked the attributes related directly to their compensation—good insurance/benefits and high starting salary—fifth and 16th, respectively, in terms of importance. (See Figure 1.)

    Only a few differences emerged. For example, unpaid interns felt it was more important that their organizations embrace diversity and enable them to improve their community, country, and/or world. Paid interns, on the other hand, felt it was more important that there was recognition for good performance, opportunity for rapid advancement, and a high starting salary.

    Data from the 2019 Student Survey Report were collected from February 13, 2019, through May 1, 2019. A total of 22,371 students responded from 470 NACE-member colleges and universities. By class, 4,118 freshmen; 3,642 sophomores; 5,049 juniors; 6,475 seniors; 2,384 master’s students; and 516 doctoral students responded to the survey. The focus of the report, however, is on the experiences of the 3,952 graduating seniors who participated. In addition, this report includes in-depth analysis of the impact of students’ internships on these aspects of their transition from college to work. The 2019 Student Survey Report is available free to members through MyNACE. An executive summary of the report is available through the NACE Store.

    Figure 1: Percent of respondents indicating job attribute as either very or extremely important

    Attribute Never Unpaid Paid Overall Grad Seniors
    Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job 84.5% 85.4% 88.2% 86.0%
    Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g. communication) 80.8% 85.7% 88.1% 85.0%
    Friendly co-workers 78.2% 84.7% 88.4% 83.9%
    Job security 82.5% 83.3% 82.8% 82.7%
    Good insurance/benefits package 77.1% 75.4% 80.6% 77.9%
    Recognition for good performance 69.0% 72.8% 79.2% 74.0%
    Organization helps me improve my community/country/world 70.9% 78.5% 72.0% 73.8%
    Clearly defined assignments 72.5% 74.5% 73.2% 73.3%
    Organization embraces diversity 70.5% 77.1% 69.2% 72.3%
    Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility 64.6% 69.7% 68.5% 67.6%
    Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity 60.1% 66.5% 64.4% 63.6%
    Located in a diverse and tolerant community 61.8% 66.2% 61.3% 63.1%
    Opportunity for rapid advancement 51.6% 53.2% 62.4% 55.9%
    Sustainable products and/or sustainable operations 56.2% 55.0% 55.5% 55.5%
    Casual, non-competitive atmosphere 47.0% 52.2% 48.7% 49.7%
    High starting salary 46.9% 45.7% 55.9% 49.7%
    Located close to my home 46.8% 50.2% 43.9% 46.8%
    Organization has well-recognized name/brand/image 38.9% 39.9% 48.5% 42.7%
    Source: 2019 Student Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers
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