Graduates are looking for work that is challenging and engaging, where they can
feel a sense of independence, take responsibility, and learn new skills. Others say job
location, a cool boss, and a laid-back atmosphere are key. Of course, money never
"No matter how anybody spends it, money is always a deciding factor," says Brian
Krueger, Webmaster at Collegegrad.ccom and author of College Grad Job Hunter. "But a
lot of times, it's the corporate culture that ends up being just as important. It's not
enough just what the job is; a lot of it has to do with ... the work environment.
Companies have been very savvy about playing to that and giving people different
options and areas of flexibility in that regard."
Tales of Internet billionaires and overnight IPO wealth from stock options have
bloated expectations of new workers. Certainly, salaries for entry-level IT positions
are higher than they've ever been in history. But not every new recruit is looking to
strike it rich. According to MSU's Gartner, young people may not enjoy taking the risks
associated with working at or founding a start-up company any more than their older,
more experienced peers do.
"The new college graduates bring some advantages in the sense that they tend to be
a little more computer-savvy and willing to explore, but they're surprisingly afraid of
failure, so they don't take a lot of risks, and they're fairly cautious," Gartner says.
Even at the graduate-school level, only about 16 percent of this year's MBA
graduates are expected to start their own businesses, says Sherrie Gong Taguchi,
assistant dean and director of the Stanford MBA Career Management Center. The high
concentration of capital, ideas, and talent in Silicon Valley is a strong lure for the
budding entrepreneur, but there are so many new technology companies, and so many
untried business models, that recent graduates have a hard time evaluating their
chances of success. Graduates also face pressure from all the hype around dot-coms, she
"Sometimes there is a herd mentality in that if one is not in a start-up, it's not
cool, or those in other industries think 'I'm missing out if I don't jump in,'" Taguchi
says. "The thoughtful ones understand that lifelong, it's really about doing what makes
you happy, however you define that, and having the courage to do what you want to do;
how you define success and fulfillment."