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Survey of Goldman Sachs interns shows Gen Z recession fears and career priorities


Cassidy Case is a few months away from her fall internship, but she’s already gearing up for the summer. The 20-year-old is a marketing major at Arizona State University and is finishing her second internship at Circle K, the convenience store chain, following another internship this summer. During her interview for the summer of 2023, her intentions are clear: she doesn’t expect a few months of typical intern work – by the time she graduates in 2024, she wants a full-time job with them.

Case says her father taught her to be proactive in shaping her budding career, but she also has another concern on her mind: a potential recession on the way.

“I don’t want to be in a position where I have to make tough decisions right after I graduate,” Case told CNBC Make It. She says a friend recently completed an internship hoping to land a full-time offer afterwards, “but they didn’t give it to him because of what’s going on in the economy,” said Box. “It stresses me out for my graduation plans and for the longevity of my career.”

Cassidy Case, 20, is a marketing major at Arizona State University.

Courtesy of subject

Worries about a potential slowdown are hitting the youngest in the workforce: 86% of college interns believe a recession is on the horizon, according to Goldman Sachs’ 2022 Global Internship Survey of more than 2,470 interns over the summer.

In response to the economic turmoil, the Class of 2023 describes themselves as anxious, worried, stressed and preoccupied with their job prospects after college, says Christine Cruzvergara, head of education strategy at Handshake, the research platform for employment for students. .

As young workers seek stability and meaning when entering the world of work, they are changing their behaviors and mindsets to “succeed” their future.

Gen Zers want interesting work, good colleagues, and the flexibility to explore something new

Gen Z interns surveyed by Goldman Sachs say their top priorities when taking on a new job are what their daily life will be like (34%), as well as who their co-workers will be (21%). This is significantly higher than other job attractions, including salary (13%), company objective (12%) and opportunity for advancement (8%).

Today’s youngest workers are willing to relocate for a job, and a slight majority believe success means being able to relocate rather than put down roots or become homeowners.

At this point in their lives and careers, Gen Zers want flexibility in the way they live and work above all else, says Cruzvergara.

“A lot of new graduates want [work] in person to have those social connections and those community connections, especially when they’re just starting out in their careers,” she says. “At the same time, they like to be able to have some flexibility and autonomy to work from home” when needed, whether to adapt their schedule to a certain day, to save gas or to live in a place where the cost of living is lower.

Recession-Proof Study Plans

Students today are driven to understand what they want and be upfront about it with potential employers. For instance, Case has a few strategies for determining if an internship might turn into something more.

She is clear with recruiters about her career goals in marketing and asks: Does the company have a budget to hire full-time interns, waiting for them to succeed? What are the company’s plans for hiring in the next two to four years?

She prefers to speak with large global companies that she believes can withstand possible economic shocks in the future.

At the University of Arkansas, 21-year-old senior Oliver Sims also has his summer work plans locked down. He recently accepted an offer back to Dell as a finance intern, which will be his third stint with the tech giant.

He is optimistic about his future with them after school. Last summer, he says the company told interns they were facing an external hiring freeze, but interns were well placed to be considered first for any future vacancies.

Oliver Sims, 21, is studying accounting at the University of Arkansas.

Courtesy of subject

Sims weathers the recession for the next few years of his life in another way: He’ll graduate with an accounting degree in May and go straight into the competitive Walton College of Business program to earn a master’s degree with an extra year.

College enrollment tends to increase when jobs are scarce. More students and recent graduates might consider getting higher degrees to weather economic shocks, says Jade Walters, 23, a Howard University graduate who now leads the ninth semester, an early-career resource for college students. Generation Z professionals.

She often hears young job seekers expressing “their fear and anxiety” about their job prospects in a bleak economy. Many bemoan entry-level jobs that already require years of experience, or apply for a slew of jobs but never get a response. For some, higher education and finding internships throughout the year is a safer bet: “It’s just easier to be a student than to find a job in this market,” she says.

Short term anxious, long term optimistic

Early-career workers were among the hardest hit during the Great Recession, with lasting consequences for their socio-economic well-being, health and mortality, studies have shown.

But today’s young professionals are entering a job market that looks nothing like it did during the 2008 financial crisis: jobs are booming, employers can’t hire fast enough and working conditions are improving for many, says Sarah Wang, 21, a senior majoring in communications at UCLA and interning at Worklife ventures, a venture capital firm investing in “future of work” companies.

She says she and her peers are pickier about the jobs they want, knowing the many ways to work: “During the pandemic, we saw what was possible,” she explains. “You could work remotely from your parents’ house for a company with an office based in New York.” Managers became more flexible with schedules and adapting to what was happening in the lives of their employees. In general, “employers are more compassionate about understanding each other’s situation,” she says. “It is possible to redefine what work looks like.”

Sarah Wang, 21, is a senior at UCLA studying communications.

Courtesy of subject

Cruzvergara says that feeling — anxious in the short term for the job market but optimistic in the long term for careers and the world of work — is quite common among Gen Z students right now. An overwhelming majority of 81% of students think they will find a well-paying job after graduation, 82% think they will find it fulfilling, and 86% think they will find a job in a field that interests them , according 2023 Graduate Handshake Report.

Young workers also know that opportunities abound beyond the traditional workforce, which can alleviate some of the pressure of finding the “perfect” corporate job after school.

“With the rise of the maker economy and the era of parallel hustle, the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. career isn’t the only viable path for people my age,” Wang says. If she can’t find a job that matches her passions, she can design one herself: “With technology at our fingertips, if there are no opportunities, we can create them.”

Young people like Wang believe these opportunities can take them far, literally and figuratively. “I see the job as an opportunity to travel and live in different places in the country,” says Wang. “I could do Seattle for two years and then I could go to the East Coast for grad school or work. Or maybe I’ll be a digital nomad and find a remote or hybrid-friendly job.”


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