As summer draws to a close and college students return to their campuses, most incoming seniors have only one thing on their minds: how to score that elusive full-time job offer. Even younger students are starting to get serious about their careers, with many landing internships as early as freshman year. But corporate college programs and prestigious positions in industries like banking and consulting aren’t the only opportunities that are catching students’ eyes; according to a recent study by Payscale, 47% of recent college grads have chosen to work at companies with less than 100 employees, otherwise known as startups.
The reason for startups’ growing appeal on college campuses fits with many of the natural tendencies of younger millennials and members of Generation Z. This demographic places a high priority on being able to contribute meaningfully to their work and feel as though they are making a difference, a feeling that is much more likely to manifest itself in a small company where employees have high levels of autonomy and responsibility. A study by Harvard Business review found that “the opportunity to learn and grow” was consistently the most important factor for younger millennials in making career decisions-- startup environments often encourage employees to wear many hats, allowing young employees to learn a variety of skills and advance their careers more quickly. And while less of the HBR study participants listed high salary as an important motivator for their job choices, the potential that stock options have to pay out big for startup employees can’t hurt, especially for a generation with unprecedented levels of student debt.
Colleges are tapping into this recent surge in student entrepreneurial drives by creating new initiatives outside of traditional entrepreneurship clubs, workshops and speaker series. Over 13 universities have created their own collegiate incubator programs, a number that is increasing each year as more grant, angel and VC funding is pumped into the student entrepreneurship space. Even large corporations in traditional industries are jumping on the bandwagon-- financial firms like Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Citibank are billing themselves as “tech companies” to prospective student hires and companies in all industries are adopting the casual dress codes and remote work policies reminiscent of Silicon Valley greats. All of this serves as further evidence that the workplace that new college grads are about to enter is dramatically different from the traditional, suit-clad stereotypes of yesterday.
Are you a student ready to launch your career in the startup space? Come out to Quake Capital’s Startup Internship Fair on Thursday, September 14th from 5-8 PM! Network with entrepreneurs that are disrupting industries from fashion to food to fitness. RSVP here to attend, and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.