The majority of students restrict themselves to the least amount of time to gain work experience and apply for graduate jobs by waiting until their final year of study or after graduation before deciding on a career, says graduate recruitment website, Milkround.com.
Milkround asked more than 100 students and graduates about their future, and just two thirds from all years had made a career choice.
Of them, more than half had waited until their last year or after university before deciding on an industry, with 34 percent making a decision as a finalist and 23 percent when they had graduated.
Less than a third made a choice in their first or second year and 14 percent knew which industry they wanted to work in before they started their course.
Milkround spokesman Mike Barnard said:
“Students should always put their studies before finding a job, but they need to ensure they don’t forget about life after their degree while at university. Getting an idea of what industry you want to work gives students the chance to research their options in the first years of study, gaining the knowledge and potentially the work experience too, needed to land a top graduate job.
“Those who leave all their career considerations and job hunting to the final year – or later – risk missing out on a job they really want.”
For students and graduates who have already made their career choice, accounting, auditing and finance were the most popular choices with 16 percent, followed by government and the public sector (13 percent) and IT (12 percent).
The financial crisis continues to shake the confidence of students considering their future: just three percent said they would choose to work in banking.
Students who have yet to make a firm decision on their future career highlighted industries they are likely to consider but then avoid.
Media (considered by 45 percent), public relations (35 percent) and telecommunications (22 percent) proved popular when weighing up options.
However, just one percent still wanted to work in media or telecoms when making a final decision, and none of the respondents opted for PR.
Once in work, just 10 percent plan to leave their first graduate job before a completing a year. Nearly three in 10 expect to look for another role between a year and two years while a quarter claim two to three years will be the time to go.
One in five predicts they will last three to five years; just 17 percent intend to be loyal for five years or more.
Mike Barnard added: “With the end of 2008 dominated by talk of redundancies, unemployment figures and recession fears, students need to get on the career ladder as soon as they can.
“They need to not just decide on a career, but also seek out ways of gaining relevant experience: internships and placements can really set them apart from other candidates, but any work experience with transferable skills will be a big bonus in an employer’s eyes.”