More than half of students consider company culture to be most important when they start working

What are students and graduates most concerned about when finding work? Research from student marketing agency Raptor shows the answer might surprise you: Company culture is their top concern. Here, Raptor’s Emily Lowes looks at graduate priorities post-pandemic.

In our most recent data study, we wanted to understand students’ perceptions of post-pandemic opportunities. We analyzed what they value most when considering their first employer.

We surveyed 105 students from 36 universities in the UK. We found that company culture, hybrid work structures, and work experience topped the list for students to feel confident in their decisions after graduation.

Student Calendar

Of the students surveyed, nearly one in four start thinking about their career after graduation in their first year of college; 34% start considering their career in their second year.

With more than half of students (58%) considering their job opportunities during the first two years of their college experience, employers need to do more to help students explore their career options in the early stages of their university experience.

90% of students indicated that internships were important or very important in deciding their postgraduate career. While 53% of students had undertaken an unpaid internship during their university studies, only 43% had undertaken a paid internship, with students highlighting the lack of opportunities to obtain paid internships as a major problem when approaching a competitive graduate market. It is clear that employers must offer paid internships, allowing students to gain experience without sacrificing their ability to accept part-time work to finance their stay at university.

Employers

We asked our student network to consider the most important factors when choosing postgraduate employers. More than half ranked company culture as the number one priority when exploring post-graduate opportunities.

With a movement of carefree youth towards values-based consumption, students have taken the pandemic as a cue to reflect on what they believe in and what is important to them (finding an employer who shares their values) . Only 22% said salary was the most important factor: Gen Z is more focused on their well-being and happiness than on gratification and monetary reward.

Post-pandemic, many companies have adopted a hybrid approach to work, offering employees the opportunity for greater flexibility in their roles. 58% of students surveyed would consider taking a fully remote job, juxtaposing studies with recent data suggesting Gen Z is leading the charge by returning to the office. 59% of students said they felt confident interviewing via Zoom. As digital natives, students seek the flexibility to pursue their passions in a setting that suits them.

Hybrid working is clearly here to stay, and students are embracing it. To attract graduates, companies will need to offer flexible working options but also the ability to build a strong corporate culture. When asked what they would like to change about the current relationship between students and potential employers, students mentioned that they would like to see more graduate employers be transparent about the amount of experience needed for the position. and their salary expectations.

The pandemic

Post-pandemic, students have been one of the most affected demographics – from disruption to their studies to lockdowns, to the pandemic’s impact on mental health. 38% of students said their career aspirations had changed after the pandemic.

The reasons for the change covered various areas; the opportunity to explore digital-based careers was a popular response.

Following a digital approach to graduate opportunities, the most useful tools students found when researching graduate opportunities were LinkedIn, Otta, and Bright Network. The vast majority of students cite Facebook communities in their field as a key place they look for opportunities. The power of social media for job opportunities gives students the opportunity to connect and learn from industry professionals, many of whom may never have had the chance to meet before, breaking down barriers existing social at the entrance.

Since the start of the pandemic, students have been a demographic strongly affected by changes in approaches to employability. However, our data study recommends that employers take note that students expect more from employers.