The 10 Industries Attracting Our Top Young Talent

Listening to experts, employers, and students, the current economic climate offers current graduates little in the way of job opportunities. With an overall unemployment rate of 8.1% at the time of this writing, a kernel of truth certainly sits at the center of this grim statement, but not every industry is necessarily closed to up-and-coming workers. Most have obviously taken a hit, but still consistently court and appeal to the younger set, rendering them safer (though not necessarily guaranteed) bets for graduates. In no particular order, the following industries have recently proven themselves something special for America’s promising new employees.

  1. Finance:Yes, despite the muddy-at-best economy, positions in investment banking, hedge funds, and consulting still make the young’uns drool. David Brooks with The New York Times explored this phenomenon in May 2012, citing informal talks with Stanford students and recent graduates as an indicator of the appeal. Not only is the money right, they also consider these highly competitive Wall Street (or wannabe Wall Street) positions exactly what NGOs and other poverty-fighting initiatives need … eventually, anyway.
  2. Accounting:Money talks, and the accounting industry proves that recent graduates are no mimes (thanks for the figurative language, Electric Six!). Like the closely related finance sector, the industry appeals to relevant majors thanks to a comparatively generous average starting salary — $50,402, according to CNN — and the fact that taxes are pretty much the only certainty in life beyond death and heartbreak doesn’t hurt matters, either. However, employers do seek out applicants with experience, so make sure to work hard at finding an effective internship before graduation.
  3. Tech:Of course! A Universum study polling undergraduates from across varying majors revealed Google and Apple as the top two companies with which they hope to score some sweet entry-level jobs, though business and tech students found them especially tantalizing. Their more youth-oriented marketing campaigns (not to mention the former’s legendarily laid-back, accessible, and fun office culture laden with perks) likely solidified their status amongst up-and-coming workers. Both startups and well-established tech corporations would do well to seduce the latest crop of graduates, as they came of age alongside the innovations being tinkered with today.
  4. Entertainment:If you can’t have your 15 minutes of fame, you can at least surround yourself with those stapling your allotment to theirs. It’s easy to assume a culture inundated with celebrity obsessions holds sway over graduates’ professional desires, but reality adroitly trumps cynicism in this instance. Disney, one of the most sought-after employers among the recent graduate crowd (BusinessWeek named it a top company to launch a career back in 2006, and its popularity hasn’t waned much), and similar studios offer up opportunities to get creative and contribute to projects millions will adore. Many find the challenges of a constantly shifting project or assignment far more stimulating than some career paths.
  5. Social Media:Facebook, specifically, as if there was any doubt in anyone’s mind. The Universum study ranked it as its 12th most appealing company for emerging employees, and its median age of 26 (not to mention generous job satisfaction rate) fully underscores this raging popularity. In fact, Technorati notes that the freedom to tool around on social media stands as a higher priority than raises among youthful workers. Why not eliminate the headache altogether and just try and score a competitive position serving the sites themselves?
  6. Engineering:Despite an overall decline in available positions, the various engineering fields still serve seductive career options to America’s promising young grads. Tomorrow’s innovators respond well to job opportunities that harness their skills for the greater good of humanity (and science), and the National Academy of Engineering urges its members to highlight this potential for selling the major. Although the average starting wage for bachelor’s degree holders sitting at around $56,367 probably helps push matters toward the E in STEM just a little bit.
  7. Pharmaceuticals:No, not the more popular brand of pharmaceuticals one finds on campus! With a degree in chemical engineering, medicine, biology, and other related fields, up-and-comers might want to pursue a career path developing drugs to keep the populace as safe and healthy as possible. According to BusinessWeek, they may very well hit the jackpot in Maryland, which boasts a median salary of $55,100 (6% higher than the average in the rest of America) and an exceptionally young cache of workers — about 48% of the industry there is composed of individuals in their 20s.
  8. Intelligence and Law Enforcement:Universum saw the FBI and CIA rank as 13 and 26 on its list of ideal workplaces recent college grads hope to pursue, respectively. In fact, the former sailed in at number 11 on BusinessWeek’s Top 50 Employers for College Grads list. The kids flock to both organizations, as well as the Department of the Treasury and Department of State, out of a sense of patriotic duty and steady pay. Oh, and the whole wanting to be a super cool agent or spy, which really isn’t nearly as fun as TV and movies make it seem, by the way.
  9. Healthcare:Many of the fast-growing, more available jobs Forbes touts as perfect for recent graduates involve healthcare outside a doctor or nurse role. Positions synthesizing technological prowess, like health information technology, clinical trials designer, geriatric health care, and even health and safety inspection are especially desirable, and offer living wages and opportunities to make the world a better place. Patients aren’t going to stop existing, meaning a demand will always exist for medical professionals, especially considering how more people now live longer.
  10. Social Work:Forty-three percent of the social work industry, which encompasses everything from case work to nannying, is made up of professionals in their 20s. Like the healthcare industry, there will never not be a time when kids, teens, and adults need social workers at home or school, so there’s not nearly as much of a risk involved. BusinessWeek cites the District of Columbia as hosting the nation’s most active job market when it comes to social work opportunities for recent graduates, with a young workforce of 45%.