STEM graduates: What matters in an employer?
Do STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates view employers differently from their peers? When viewed as group, the answer, in most cases, is no.
A special report based on the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Student Survey, 2014 shows that STEM grads seek employers and opportunities that offer the chance for personal development, friendly co-workers, job security, and a good benefits package—the same top four criteria that all new grads, as a group, say they value.
However, there are substantial variations in attitude among the individual STEM majors that set them apart not only from new graduates overall but also from each other.
In fact, analysis of their preferences indicates that to consider STEM majors as a single, coherent group is to miss the point: The individual majors have different attitudes about employers and opportunities, sometimes distinctly so.
For example, class of 2014 graduates as a group are lukewarm about “green” employers: less than one-third (31.6 percent) cited this as a very or extremely important attribute in an employer. STEM graduates, as a group, were slightly more interested: more than one-third (33.8 percent) gave a company’s “green-ness” high marks.
But within the STEM disciplines, there was a good deal of variation. Not surprisingly, nearly three-quarters of environmental science majors said they value an organization that is green. None of the other STEM majors, however, were focused on this attribute, with fewer than 50 percent of graduates in those majors citing green as key. In fact, computer science and mathematics majors were least likely to value this attribute; in both cases, less than one-quarter of graduates in those field rated green as very or extremely important.
Similarly, as a group, STEM graduates’ attitude toward a high salary seems to match that of new graduates overall. In both cases, approximately 52 percent rated it as very or extremely important. Again, however, within the individual STEM majors, there were substantial fluctuations. On the one end, nearly two-thirds of computer science graduates emphasize a high starting salary; in contrast, less than 40 percent of environmental science majors do so.
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