Do you know what your college peers really think about careers and money? If you’re not sure, then don’t feel bad.
Researchers everywhere are still trying hard to figure out how young adults in their early to mid-20s, The Millennium Generation, generally view themselves and their career aspirations. What do they want to achieve? What kind of salaries and financial goals do they have in mind for the future? What kind of responsibilities do they desire?
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network was at odds about what this new generation of college graduates, the “Millennials,” would ultimately care about in terms of career goals. And so, with this notion in mind, the company created a unique series of student surveys called The Millennium Generation Studies. The goal of the surveys, conducted by researchers at Harris Interactive, was to help job recruiters know how to connect with college graduates better when interviewing them for financial representative positions within the company.
They started out in 1997 by interviewing more than 1,000 college freshmen from all around the country. The same students were then surveyed upon their graduation in 2001 to learn if their views on the workforce had changed.
“We wanted to know what makes this generation tick,” says Erika Luckow, director of The Millennium Generation Studies. “We asked them what they are looking for in a lifestyle and in job training and development programs. We wanted to know what was important to them about the working world.”
The same group was also surveyed just after the September 11th terrorist attacks to see what kind of impact the tragic episode had on their lives and career views. The next survey was done one year after their graduation. In 2004, the students were surveyed a final time, three years into their careers. At the same time another survey was conducted with the freshman class of 2004 to learn the differences between the two sets of students as well.
The millennium generation is estimated to be 70 million members strong, second largest to only the baby boomers. So, what do these “emerging leaders” care the most about?
“It’s very simple what we have found,”explains Luckow. “This generation is a ‘we’ generation, not a ‘me’ generation. This is an eager generation but also an anxious one. They are living in a world of conflict and they have experienced a lot, both nationally and globally. They are eager to move on with life in positive ways and they are determined to help out. They are a well balanced mixture of heart and mind.”
When it comes to careers, Millennials are not overly concerned with earning a high salary. Three-fourths say how they spend their time is more important than how much money they make. “It is a return to the idealistic generation,” comments Luckow.
The surveys revealed that Millennials are looking for jobs that allow them to make an impact on the world and that offer them a sense of job security. Half of them are budding entrepreneurs who want to be their own boss someday.
Unfortunately, the study also showed that there’s a big gap between what is important to their financial security and what they know about financial vehicles and money management. More than half of respondents admit they have little knowledge about financial planning. Only 5% percent consider themselves very knowledgeable about money management and investing. And Millennium Generation women are even less confident than men about handling their finances.
The results of these surveys are frequently shared with business leaders, companies and college professors. That information has helped improve communication between the new generation of workers and the older generation of job recruiters. The research findings also helped Northwestern Mutual to create better job training and career development programs for their employees.
There are approximately 400 recent college graduates that serve as financial representatives for Northwestern Mutual per year. Interested in looking into this career possibility? Check out www.internship.nmfn.com. For more information on the Millennium Generation Surveys, please visit www.generationstudies.com.
© 2008, Young Money Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Talking ‘Bout My Millennium Generation (born 1979-2001)
- 50% want to own their own business someday.
- 75% say how they spend their time is more important than how much money they make.
- 50% mention the need to grow up faster/lack of innocence as disadvantages.
- 62% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
- 50% of Class of 2004 plans to continue their education after graduating college.
- 51% admit they have little knowledge about financial planning.
- 5% consider themselves very knowledgeable about money management and investing.
- 40% have more than $10,000 in student loans
- 20% have credit cards with balances of at least $5,000.
Source: Millennium Generation Studies, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network