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  • What First-Generation Students Are Seeking in Employers

    October 12, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Student Attitudes
    A first generation student evaluates a potential employer on a phone interview.

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    When it comes to the aspects that Class of 2016 graduates are seeking in employers, first-generation students gave greater importance to an organization being located close to home and embracing diversity than did their classmates, according to a special report on first-generation college students who responded to NACE’s Class of 2016 Student Survey.

    These results are not surprising as they tend to correlate to the demographics of first-generation students. With a larger population of first-generation students being older, the probability of having a family and the importance of being close to home is elevated. In addition, as there is greater racial diversity among first-generation students, a preference for a diverse work environment makes sense.

    First-generation students also found higher importance in family-oriented benefits—including adoption leave, elder care, and family leave—and on-site daycare facilities than did non-first generation students.

    NACE’s Class of 2016 Student Survey was conducted February 16 – April 30, 2016; more than 23,000 students at colleges and universities nationwide took part, including 5,600 graduating seniors. Among graduating seniors, 5,013 self-identified as either first generation (1,925) or non-first generation (3,088). First-generation students are defined as having a parent/parents who does/do not possess at least a bachelor’s degree. The Class of 2016 Student Survey was sponsored by Enterprise.

    Survey participants can access a full copy of the report through MyNACE. Highlights from the Class of 2016 Student Survey are available at  

    Figure 1: Preferences of students entering the work force

    First Generation Non-first Generation
    X N X N
    The organization is located close to my home 3.4 1046 3.1 1708
    Organization embraces diversity 3.8 1055 3.5 1712
    Organization offers job security 4.2 1056 4.1 1711
    The organization provides the opportunity for rapid advancement 3.6 1056 3.4 1711
    There are clearly defined assignments 3.9 1052 3.7 1705
    Organization has a good insurance/benefits package 4.1 1056 4.0 1704
    Organization is known as a "green" company 3.0 1051 2.8 1708
    Organization offers a high starting salary 3.6 1054 3.5 1704
    Organization has a well-recognized name/brand/image 3.3 1058 3.2 1710
    Organization provides me the ability to improve my community/country/world 4.0 1054 3.8 1709
    There is recognition for good performance 3.9 1052 3.8 1704
    The organization is located in a diverse and tolerant community 3.4 1053 3.3 1707
    Organization offers the opportunity for personal growth and development 4.4 1051 4.4 1709
    Casual atmosphere (non-competitive environment) 3.2 1057 3.2 1717
    Organization offers the opportunity for self-expression and creativity 3.8 1055 3.7 1709
    There are friendly co-workers 4.1 1052 4.2 1710
    Scale: 1=Not at all important; 5=Extremely important
    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers