Graduate ambition defies market gloom

Tuesday 30 March

Economic gloom is failing to dampen the career ambitions of the UK’s graduate population.

According to new research from The Student Room, the UK’s leading student social networking site, graduates’ and current university students’ sense of determination is reflected in the fact that eight out of 10 (83 per cent) are convinced that they will eventually work in their preferred career, and are prepared to take several steps to get there.

And they are unwavering in their resolve, with a majority (56 per cent) of those in work proactively choosing their current job because it offers a boost that will pave their way to their preferred career.

Ambitious graduates are committed to getting the most out of staging post jobs to hone their skills (40 per cent), gain the experience they need for their chosen career (32 per cent) or to get their foot in the door (21 per cent) to their ideal job.

And the next wave are even more career focussed. More than a fifth of current undergrad students (42 per cent) had settled on a career choice before applying to university – compared to 33 per cent of those who graduated in the past. As a result, today’s undergraduates are also actively focussing on studying a degree that paves the way to a career, with 67 per cent of current student’s degrees relating to a ‘dream job’.

Pay packets are not seen as the guiding force in career choices by modern graduates. A career’s potential to be interesting (58 per cent) or rewarding (42 per cent) are now bigger motivating factors than salary (27 per cent). Consequently, university leavers are turning their backs on more established graduate roles, such as banking and finance, and media in favour of careers in healthcare (16 per cent) creative and cultural industries (11 per cent) and teaching (eight per cent).

The Student Room research also reveals that today’s graduates’ are shunning traditional sources of career advice such as parents and professional career advisors, focussing on proactive research. Two fifths (39 per cent) chose their career thanks to their own research, with one in seven (13 per cent) inspired by their own work experience – far outstripping the influence of parents (four per cent) or school careers services (four per cent).

Jamie O’Connell, marketing director at The Student Room, said: “The graduate jobs market is more competitive than any point in history, but the findings show that today’s students are becoming increasingly ambitious and taking a clear-sighted, long-term view.

“Generation Y has been called the Peter Pan generation – well, Peter Pan has woken up. They know what they want and they know how to get there. They are taking adult career decisions and taking them early and seeing them through. It’s remarkable how far they are taking responsibility for their own futures. This is probably the most dedicated and motivated generation for years.”

Insight ( is The Student Room’s new website, giving recruiters and youth advertisers a deeper understanding of students’ and recent graduates’ attitudes, ambitions and decision making. Launched on Tuesday 30 March, it will include a graduate recruitment white paper featuring these findings in-depth, along with comment and analysis.

- Ends -
Notes to editors
Research was carried out online on The Student Room among 1,010 users in March 2010.

About The Student Room
Founded in 2002, The Student Room ( is the world’s largest student web community, with 26 million page views and 2.8 million unique users each month.

Members are predominantly young people aged 14-20+ who offer support and advice to each other via forums on subjects ranging from education and careers to health, music and relationships.

The Student Room works closely with several government departments and is the major advertising platform for higher education in the UK. It offers powerful ad targeting solutions for graduate recruiters and youth brands.

About Acumen PI
Acumen PI is the company behind the UK’s largest and fastest-growing student social network. With over 3.7 million Unique Visitors every month to its websites The Student Room and, more than doubling every year, its sites are a major resource for UK students.

Acumen PI was launched in 2002 to help fellow students share their academic and social knowledge and experiences. In 2006 Chris Newson purchased the company which has seen rapid growth year on year since.

The Student Room is the largest student website in the UK and its sister site Coursework.Info is the UK’s largest academic essay and coursework library.

  • Nic

    Precisely. The media would have us believe that it’s all downhill for current and future graduates but the truth is, graduate opportunities are there to be found for those who are willing to show the same determination and dedication they showed to get their degree in the first place.