Life after college for the class of 2012

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In the six years since I left the hallowed halls of UConn (Go Huskies!) so much has already changed. In 2006, your grandma couldn’t use Facebook yet and there was no such thing as Twitter or Pinterest.

In 2012 things are different. This freshman workforce has to contend with fierce competition from their peers and massive student loan debt – in an economy struggling to lower the unemployment rate and put a large number of people back to work. How does one succeed in this environment? The answer: focus on yourself and don’t apologize for it.

Dubbed “Generation I”, this new crop of recent grads knows what they want. In a recent survey* we conducted, a great majority of respondents expect good health benefits (74%), job security (73%), and opportunities for growth and development (68%). In addition, these new grads want to stay connected to their personal network – many would not take a job that denied them access to personal phone calls (23%), email (20%) and texting (15%). In other words, if Gen I-ers don’t get the things that matter to them they are willing to walk away.

This uncompromising attitude is in stark contrast to that of college grads of the last few years who were just happy if they got a job—any job.  A mere 3% of the group surveyed said they’d stay at one company for more than five years while one-third of the group said they’d stay in one place only 3 years or less. 91% would stick it out up to a year at a job they didn’t like. That said, job satisfaction is not the only reason this tenacious group is moving on so quickly.

One key factor is relocation. 94% of those surveyed said they’d relocate – mainly if the money was right. 73% would move for a job that paid more versus 51% who would move for their dream job.  Additionally, 80% of young male graduates say they would be willing to relocate to a new city if they received a job offer with higher pay compared to only 67% of young women. Salary cuts do not sit well with this group—two-thirds (67% to be exact) would drop a job that was going to cut back on their pay.

Financial stability and growth is of paramount importance to this demographic and that often requires some assistance. More than 55% of respondents are receiving monetary support from their parents in various forms. 32% of Generation I doesn’t pay for their cell phones and 21% doesn’t pay for their internet.

In addition, Generation I is hyper-aware of their peers as competitors and social media plays a big role in contributing to that self-induced stress. 20% of recent grads say that they feel pressure when they see their peers update their status on social media sites about their career. 70% of recent graduates feel some kind of pressure to keep up with their peers when it comes to their career, 41% say they feel pressured when peers make more money than they do, and 38% say they feel pressure when their peers are at a higher level in their career.

Is insecurity driving Generation I to succeed? Is it a competitive streak? Or, is it just good old-fashioned American persistence? While some may find the attitudes of Generation I aggressive or brash or self-serving, I say rock on. Nobody ever reached their goals by sitting back and taking “no” for an answer. It’s a tough world out there—show it who’s boss.

What do you think about the survey findings around this year’s graduating class? Do you think their demands are valid or should they change their approach?

*Methodology: This telephone survey was conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Adecco among a sample 507 recent college graduates of 4-year degree programs between the ages of 22-26. The survey was fielded between March 29 and April 2, 2011.  Results have a margin of error of +/- 4.37%.

95 thoughts on “Life after college for the class of 2012”

  1. This sounds about right. With all the connectivity these days, career competition is inevitable, relocating for a job is easier than ever and although there may be a lack of abundance, access to new/available jobs is easier, causing young people to jump around a lot more. I think their demands are valid as long as they are putting in the hard work required to deserve what they are asking for.

  2. This is a really interesting article for me… I was part of the class of 2009, and my graduating class is so much different in just three short years. In 2009, it was almost impossible to get (or keep) a job, so I think the attitudes have changed a lot. Also, it’s shocking to me how much financial stability these new grads are getting from their parents – my friends and I were all looking to buy homes, become independent as a measure of success. I do agree with the pressure to keep up with others, especially the jealousy when you see a promotion, relocation, etc on Facebook.

    1. @Jenni–an interesting trend I’m seeing from my class (2006) is that many people fled the nest as quickly as possible but are more often than not returning home to live with their parents to save money for things like houses, apartments–even just life in general. Partially because many people lost their jobs due to the recession so it was back to square one. I think the class of 2012 is playing it smart by accepting help from their families–having that assistance to build a solid foundation ultimately leads to more stable financial independence.

  3. Interesting article! I was surprised to see that only 68% said that growth and development was a key factor for them though- thats usually the first thing that I’ve looked for over the course of my (albeit relatively short) career…especially at the beginning of one’s professional life when growth, learning and showing what you can do to the right people makes all the difference…When I was a recent grad, I made sure the company I was with really promoted developing their own people – thats how I got my Masters (almost) for free!

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