After a year unlike any other, the job market in the United States has been turned on its head — and college students stand to benefit greatly from it, especially this summer.
In fact, a new survey from polling and research firm The Generation Lab found that 50% of all college students already have plans to work a part-time job (29%) or a full-time (21%) job, with another 22% working at an internship over the summer.
But despite the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, the prospect of working during a pandemic isn't the top concern for students at the moment. Almost one-third (31%) say their main worry right now is understaffing issues, with a smaller 25% reporting concerns over health and safety issues in the workplace.
College students find themselves in a new job market this year
According to the Generation Lab, 40% of students looking for a job agreed that finding work was easier this year than last year.
Students found job opportunities through a variety of sources, with the top ones being:
- Introductions by a friend (24%)
- Job boards (18%)
- Introductions by family (14%)
- Company career sites (12%)
Although the median number of jobs that respondents applied to was two, the survey also discovered that 21% applied to eight or more jobs this summer, and 8% applied for 20 or more opportunities.
On the other hand, 28% of students said they didn't do any job searching at all.
As pandemic-era restrictions begin lifting across the country, some college students with jobs this summer can expect a return to in-person work. But because remote work was the dominant arrangement for most of the pandemic, other students may experience working from home for the first time.
In fact, many students still want to work from home, at least part of the time. The Generation Lab survey revealed that, on average, respondents would prefer to do their jobs in person only three days out of the week.
Summer jobs help pay for college and personal expenses
When asked about the primary reason for seeking work this summer, students offered a variety of responses, including:
- To gain experience (28%)
- To help pay for college expenses (24%)
- To help pay for personal expenses (22%)
- To save money (16%)
- To financially support family members (8%)
The fact that college and personal expenses made up nearly half of all responses illustrates how heavily college students’ finances are burdened.
For instance, a recent survey from The Princeton Review found 63% of students and their parents plan to spend more than $75,000 on their college education. Meanwhile, a different survey from Course Hero revealed that 60% of students are having difficulties affording necessities like food and rent.
But maybe this year will be better financially for students: Forty-three percent of the Generation Lab's respondents report that they will be getting paid more this summer compared with last summer.
Methodology: The Generation Lab gathered data during June 8-10, 2021, from a demographically representative sample of 501 college students nationwide attending two-year and four-year schools, including community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year universities.
The final sample used for this survey closely resembles a probability sample of college students in the US.