The transition from college to the real world has never been without its growing pains.
Graduates from every generation have found themselves in thankless first jobs, with low salaries and long hours. There always have been, and always will be, new college grads who move back in with their parents, or who wish they didn’t major in psychology, or who forego the job market altogether in favor of a few more years in the haven of academia.
Clearly, this already difficult transition is even harder to make when the economy is in the midst of a downward spiral. So, when I came across a new study from Rutgers University, called “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy,” I figured the data was going to tell a fairly obvious tale.
However, upon reading the study, there was some pretty interesting insight beyond the expected stats about reduced starting salary (grads who got their first jobs in 2009-2010 suffered a 10 percent reduction in starting salary compared to those who graduated in 2006-2007) and higher unemployment (of those surveyed, 53 percent are working full time, 21 percent are attending graduate or professional school, 12 percent work part-time and 14 percent are unemployed).
Here’s a quick look at some of the more surprising findings:
Overall, recent grads are happy that they went to college
Nearly 75 percent of recent college grads said they were happy with, and have no second thoughts about, their decision to attend college. The same number felt that their education prepared them to succeed in their first full-time job.
On the other hand, though, three-quarters said that — looking back on their education — they would have done something differently (changed majors, done more internships, etc.).
Overall, recent grads are happy with their first jobs
Although nearly 30 percent of recent graduates reported making concessions for their first jobs — like accepting a lower-than-expected salary or working below what they regarded as their education level — two-thirds reported that they were satisfied with their first jobs.
More than three-quarters (78 percent) of those who graduated from 2006-2008 stayed at their first job longer than a year. Of those who graduated in 2009 or 2010, 68 percent are still at their first job.
Internships pay off
Average starting salary was significantly higher for graduates who completed at least one internship during college ($34,680) than it was for those who did not do an internship ($28,000). Forty-seven percent of graduates said they wished they’d done more internships or worked part time in college.
Most recent grads felt their first jobs were a step down the right career path
“Only one-quarter if graduates said that their first job was the beginning of what they hoped would be their career. But another half (46 percent) described their first job as the first step on the way to that career path.” One-quarter said that their first job had nothing to do with their desired career and was “just a job to get by.”
So what do you think? Are you a recent college grad? Are you glad you went to college? Did you get a job in your desired field? How do you feel about the future of your career?
Let us know in the comments section, below.