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Boston Wins College Students' Hearts as Post-Grad Home, But Capturing Talent Requires Right Approach, Right Jobs

Students Indicate Internships and Local Industry Networking Are Critical Pathways

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/21/14 -- College students in the Boston area may come here initially just for the prestige and rigorous academic programs of the area's renowned colleges and universities, but many end up developing strong attachments to the region and want to stay, according to a recent survey of nearly 400 college juniors and seniors by college millennial marketing agency Fluent. To attract these graduates, though, businesses need to think more old-school than they might suspect, through internships, in-person networking, and entry-level positions that are a true first rung on a career ladder.

The study found that nearly two-thirds (60%) of those coming from out-of-state initially planned to leave the region upon graduation, but that figure drops to under half (45%) as they approach graduation. Combine this with overwhelming numbers of in-state students saying they prefer to settle in the region, and the picture of a vibrant young talent pool comes into focus. What's more, these figures remain steady when asked if they see themselves still here in five to ten years.

Why They Stay or Leave

The primary reason students want to stay in the Boston area is simply that they "like living here," with reasons provided being the strong young professional social scene, and the area's rich history and culture. Some 39% of out-of-state students decided to stay for this reason alone, followed by the belief that it's a good market for their careers (31%).

The top reasons all students cite for choosing to leave the Boston market are 1) to try a different regional lifestyle (27%), 2) it doesn't provide the right career paths (15%), or 3) they are pursuing post-graduate studies (14%) or say they already have found a better job (11%) elsewhere.

When asked what might have convinced those leaving to stay, nearly half (46%) cited either a higher paying job offer or simply any job at all.

"The good news for businesses hoping to draw talent from our world-class schools is, despite this past horrendous winter and concerns over cost-of-living, students clearly find the area lifestyle very attractive," said Fluent CEO Chip Rives. "Businesses that worry about 'brain drain' need to focus on educating students about their merits as quality employers, to reach out with a personal touch and take entry-level positions as seriously as students do. For all the talk of a disaffected, digital generation, these students want connection and opportunity as much as any past generation ever did - and given the economy, perhaps even more so."

Critical Connections: Value of Internships, Employment Resources

Internships matter. The increased intent to stay in the Boston market by students from out-of-state directly correlates with the number of those who held internships here.

To find internships or permanent employment, students most often turn to:

  • College career centers (74.1%)
  • Career fairs (56.33%)
  • Local online job boards (59.31%)
  • National online job boards, including LinkedIn (47.89%)

What they would like to see more of are:

  • Recruiting events by industry (59.69%)
  • Events/gatherings for interns to network (54.82%)
  • City/regional recruiting events (47.89%)
  • Industry-specific databases (31.33%)
  • Regional job boards (20.18%)

What Industries Matter Most

Certain industries do hold more appeal than others, with the percent of respondents planning careers in the following areas as follows:

  • Financial services (21.04%)
  • Marketing/communications (19.95%)
  • Medicine/healthcare/biotechnology (18.03%)
  • Education (13.39%)

Surprisingly, technology/digital, manufacturing and engineering, entertainment, retail, energy and travel each received fewer than 10% of the responses.

"Companies in the top categories clearly will enjoy a larger applicant pool. Yet we have a breadth to our economy that students may not yet appreciate. Companies in less-targeted industries might reap rewards with stronger networking for openings in financial or marketing departments, for example," said Rives.

While a job offer ultimately determines where the student lands, another surprising finding was that weather is more worrisome to the graduates than cost of living. Some 10% cited climate as a reason to leave, while less than 3% felt they would leave in order to find a place they could better afford to live. Some 70% of students overall believe they will need some kind of advanced degree in their careers, and 62% are considering staying in or returning to Boston for that degree.

About Fluent: Specializing in "translating brands for the college world," Fluent works with clients who want to understand and engage College Millennial Consumers (CMCs) nationwide, both on- and off-campus. With a network encompassing more than 1,000 colleges and universities, Fluent's capabilities include campus activities and programs, College Millennial Consumer insights, digital and social media strategy and activations, and experiential programs. Clients have included major brands such as Kellogg's, Microsoft, Macy's, Jack in the Box, Skype, Zipcar, Kotex, Dove and L'Oreal. For more information, visit: www.fluentgrp.com.

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