The Jobs Millennials Really Want

A new survey finds that young adults definitely want to make a difference in the work they do—and many want to work in a health-related field.

When it comes to finding a career, young people are focusing on healthcare, government jobs, and the tech industry.
Lorie A. Parch is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in health and lifestyle topics.

The job market may not be pretty right now—the unemployment rate still hovers around 7.5 percent, according to April 2013 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that number climbs to 12.5 percent for 20- to 24-year-olds—but that’s not stopping young adults from setting their sights high when it comes to their careers.

A new report, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Scholar 2013 Millennial Career Survey, finds that people ages 15 to 27 are focusing on a few key career areas, with healthcare at the top of the list. The survey was taken by over 9,000 students and young adults across the country; most of the respondents were current high-school students.

When asked what companies they’d want to work for, St. Jude Children’s Hospital ranked number one—beating out Google, last year’s top-ranked company.

“Among the top 25 companies, eight are health-related organizations or hospitals,” says Susan Thurman, Ph.D., Scholarship Director/Editor at the NSHSS, which is based in Atlanta. Why the interest in the healthcare field? As scholarship director, Dr. Thurman reads many student essays and has noted a frequent theme. “A lot of the students write about how, when they were younger, some debilitating health issue affected someone close to them and it’s motivated them to want to do something about it,” she explains. “A large number of students have had a heartbreaking experience—particularly cancer—and they are focused on wanting to do something about that.”

St. Jude Children's Hospital ranked No. 1 as the place Millennials most want to work—beating out Google, which topped the 2012 list.

The other health-related potential employers mentioned by students were (in descending order): a local hospital; a healthcare service corporation; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; the Mayo Clinic; UnitedHealth Group; Kaiser Permanente; and the Atlantic Health Service.

As members of the NSHSS, these students are also clearly among the best and brightest and tend to want a profession that's more challenging, adds Dr. Thurman. Mandatory volunteer service hours at many schools could also be influencing students, she says. “To graduate you often need a set number of volunteer hours,” Dr. Thurman notes. “When they get involved in that community service they see how good that makes them feel, that they made a difference at a very young age. They may perceive that a career in a health-related area will give them that feeling in their job.” A summer program on a university campus where students can shadow a doctor or get a feel for studying medicine—or law or government—can also steer students in that direction.

Over the six years of the NSHSS survey Dr. Thurman has seen consistent trends and also a few surprises. “In the past few years we’ve seen increasing interest in government jobs—the CIA, FBI, and state department,” she says, adding that Facebook, which was very popular in the 2012 survey, had slipped in the 2013 report—falling to 38 on the list. Which doesn’t mean that tech doesn’t still remain popular: Google, Apple, Microsoft, and SONY were all in the top 25.

The survey also asked what students and young adults factored in when they were weighing up an employer. Most important was a company that treats its employees fairly; getting skills that would enhance their career; getting a position with benefits like health insurance; and having work/life balance.  And in spite of the still-suffering job market, respondents felt optimistic about their odds of finding work: Nearly three-quarters thought they’d find work as soon as they graduated from college or within six months of graduation.

The top 10 preferred employers in the NSHSS Scholar 2013 Millennial Career Survey were:

1.   St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

2.   Walt Disney Company

3.   Local hospital

4.   Google

5.   Apple, Inc.

6.   FBI

7.   CIA

8.   Healthcare service corporation

9.   Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

10. Microsoft

Who is your dream employer? Or do you already have your dream job?

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