What are College Students Looking for in an Employer?

What are College Students Looking for in an Employer?

By Sarah Diercks, UNI Center for Business Growth and Innovation
With all the students graduating in the next few weeks, a lot of people are looking for their first full-time jobs. Before I accepted my position at the University of Northern Iowa, I had to figure out if it was a good fit for me. Some things that students are starting to look at before accepting a position include:

1.   Flexibility
Time seems to be more and more valuable these days. Looking at future employers one thing I look for is the ability to have flexible hours. Whether that’s the ability to come in late and stay late, or come in early and leave early, it’s nice to know that they’ll give me the ability to do so.

2.   Presents Challenges
When I go to work I want to be challenged. While in an entry-level position, it’s almost inevitable that there will be some tedious work, but it can always be sprinkled with projects that are enjoyable, and require thought and some effort. The key as the employer, is to make sure projects are not so difficult that an onslaught of frustration occurs as a result. Make sure your entry-level recruits have access to a supervisor who is there to help work through any growth opportunities they may run into.

3.   Development

It seems that more and more students today aren’t taking their first job and expecting to stay there forever. According to a Gallup poll, 60% of millennials are open to a new job opportunity, so if they don’t think they’re a good fit for their current workplace, they’ll move on. If there isn’t a lot of room for advancement in the company, I love to see that they will at least help new hires develop professionally. Whether that’s paying for classes in areas I’m interested in (but will still benefit the business), or taking the time to teach me valuable workplace skills.

4.   Compensation
This is an obvious one. Coming out of college most students have at least some debt, and they need to know that there is hope to pay it off. The good thing for employers is, more and more people are realizing there’s more to life than money. If they feel like the job and environment is a great fit, most will be willing to take a little less in this area, but it is still something worth noting.

5.   Impact
Most students know that with their first job there will be some tedious, monotonous work, and that’s just how it goes. They also want to know that they’re making a difference at the company, and know the work they’re doing is making a real difference in the lives of those around them. No one wants to sit at their desk thinking, “This company could survive without me.” Right?

6.   Culture
While culture is a hard thing for most people to describe in their workplace, having a good, strong culture can be a huge determining factor in whether or not an employee stays with the company for years vs. only a couple of months. Employees want to know they can raise issues they’re having with their supervisors, can openly share their ideas, and that the that the company cares about them not only as a professional but as a person too.

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