The pursuit of meaning and balance:
Master's students reveal what they really want from their career start.
In Germany, a wide variety of industries are desperately seeking qualified specialists. Recruiters are vying to attract well-trained graduates to their companies. That's why it has become necessary to look at the wishes and needs of young professionals in their search for a career start. We wanted to know: What do our students expect for their professional lives and what does this mean for employers who want to win over such highly trained specialists?
In a recent survey conducted by the international HR consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles and the TUM School of Management under the direction of Dr. Christine Stimpel and our Dean Prof. Gunther Friedl, 700 students in the School's Master's program were asked about their expectations, preferences, and ambitions for their future careers.
TUM School of Management students know what they want
Nine out of ten participants stated that they wanted to work in business after graduation. Jobs in the public sector, academia and NGOs, on the other hand, were less popular. Furthermore, students listed various industries as their favorites: the most popular was the consulting industry, which is often seen as a springboard for further career steps. Consulting firms were followed by start-ups. They ranked second among attractive employers, possibly due to our faculty's strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. In third place, listed companies were mentioned as attractive because they have a high demand for well-trained young professionals.
Driving change and innovation in forward-thinking companies
Compared to the top three industries, family businesses, banks, and insurance companies have lost popularity. Large industrial companies have a hard time finding well-educated professionals for management positions. In terms of their attractiveness for young professionals, the private equity sector and investment banking received the worst ratings. One possible explanation for this is that socio-economic megatrends such as urbanization, digitalization and New Work primarily attract graduates particularly to progressive, modern companies. Students are looking for employers who move with the times, offer new challenges and the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and constantly improve. In terms of content, their main areas of interest are strategy and finance, digitalization, sustainability and operations.
Which features make students choose an employer?
Nowadays, corporate culture plays a dominant role for students who need to decide on a future employer. When starting their careers, students are increasingly attaching importance to a pleasant working environment. Factors such as a pleasant atmosphere, work-life balance and flexible hours are now much more important than a high income, a springboard for further career stages and opportunities for advancement.
Climbing the corporate ladder to the top
90 percent of students set high goals for themselves: they describe themselves as very ambitious and want to aim for a top position. In the long term, around 60 percent hope to one day be at the top of an organization or build a startup. “At TUM School of Management, we are united by our mission to drive innovation responsibly. This also includes taking on leadership roles, whether in a co-founded startup or at the top of a company,” says Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl, Dean of TUM School of Management and co-author of the study.
A shift in power dynamics
In pursuing their goals, TUM School of Management students are aware of their favorable position. 75 percent of students know that their skills are in high demand. The balance of power in recruiting has changed, and companies must work harder than ever to attract suitable candidates for top positions. “The market has clearly developed in favor of young career starters,” explains Dr. Christine Stimpel from Heidrick & Struggles, co-author of the study.
Promising outlook for the future
Looking at current economic developments, it remains to be seen what the situation will be like for business administration graduates in the coming years. Forecasts predict that the shortage of qualified professionals will get even worse. Graduates are currently in high demand and are confident in their ability to easily find or choose jobs. Accordingly, the most important realization for employers is that they must adapt to current and upcoming trends in the business world and create an appealing work environment in order to continue to attract young professionals in the future.