Cap and frown? 6 in 10 college grads changed their career plans because of COVID

New surveys reveal surprising figures about college students and their ‘real world’ expectations — including the average graduate anticipates earning over $100,000 in their first job!

SAN FRANCISCO — College graduates in 2022 are looking forward to entering the job market — since most feel COVID ruined their school experience. A new survey has found that a staggering 83 percent of new college grads feel the pandemic ruined their college years. Now, those students are turning their attention to the working world, and the top thing on their minds is how much money they can make!

The poll of more than 400 students in the class of 2022, commissioned by Joblist, finds Google searches for “average salary post college” are up by a whopping 223 percent!

When the researchers compared the results of their latest poll to a survey of college grads last year, the team finds 2022 grads are significantly more optimistic about their job chances than students in 2021. More than two-thirds (69%) say they feel ready to enter the current job market — taking advantage of the recent labor shortage across the U.S.

Moreover, just one in four (24%) say they’re struggling to find an entry-level job. More than four in five (84%) are excited about their career path. Interestingly, however, the survey finds that path has taken some twists and turns during COVID-19.

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Doing the pandemic shift while in school

Along with having to spend a large chunk of their college careers learning remotely, off campus, and away from their classmates and friends due to pandemic lockdowns, 2022 grads also spent a lot of time shifting their career focus.

The poll finds 62 percent of new grads completely changed the industry they planned to work in during college. Many shifted careers because of how they’re perceiving the current post-pandemic job market. Unfortunately, their guesses may not be entirely correct.

When it comes to the fields recent college grads think will have the most job opportunities, education (28%) tops the list. Arts and entertainment (27%), finance and insurance (22%), agriculture (19%), and journalism (19%) round out the top five.

According to Forbes, however, the top five fastest growing industries are healthcare, IT, supply chain management, financial management, and statistics.

Interestingly, remote work may be popular with current workers, but 2022 grads want nothing to do with it! After losing most of their college life to remote learning, only 30 percent want to find a job where they can work from home. Conversely, 37 percent want to work in an office and 24 percent want a hybrid work environment. One in 10 grads say they’ll take whatever job they can get.

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It’s all about the money!

Although previous studies have found that workers are becoming more interested in jobs that make them happy, 2022 grads would rather find a job that pays the bills and them some!

Two in three (66%) say their top priority while looking for post-graduation work is their salary. Still, 57 percent want to find a job that will keep them happy, and 50 percent want a job that will give them more experience.

As for the perks, one in three are prioritizing a potential job’s paid time off (PTO) plans. Meanwhile, one in four focus on a job’s medical benefits or life insurance plans. Just one in 20 think the top benefit is the ability to work from work.

As for that Google search, the average salary for a new college graduate is $55,260. That may come as a shock to many hopeful Gen Zers, who expect to make over $103,000 in their first job, according to a recent study by Real Estate Witch.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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