Students see networking events as key to employment prospects

The proportion of students who want their universities to ramp up networking opportunities has quintupled, Australasian survey finds

May 31, 2023
Source: iStock

Students are hungering for the chance to rub shoulders with employers on campus, as face-to-face networking creeps “back on everyone’s minds” after a pandemic “hiatus”.

An end-of-year poll of more than 1,100 Australasian students has found that almost one in two want their universities to organise more networking events, up from one in 11 in a similar survey conducted almost 12 months earlier.

Networking events moved ahead of career counselling and study support as a concrete service that universities could offer to make students “more optimistic” about their job prospects.

Practical work experience remained top of the wish list, with almost two-thirds of respondents nominating internships as the number one contributor to their employability.

Educational services company Studiosity, which commissioned the survey, said its latest poll had revealed a “clear” appetite for university study to include “real-world interaction with industry”.

CEO Mike Larsen said most students were confident that the skills they developed during their degrees would equip them for workforce success, but “getting a foot in the door” remained a challenge. “The ‘who you know’ aspect seems prevalent in modern students’ minds as a hurdle to their employability,” he said.

The survey of about 1,000 Australians and 150 New Zealanders found that most were reasonably confident about their working futures, although few professed to be “very” confident. “A large proportion of students…have some hesitations,” the survey report notes.

Gender, study level and work currency all affected students’ outlooks, with 14 per cent more men than women – and 19 per cent more postgraduates than undergraduates – expecting to find jobs related to their studies within six months of graduation.

Students employed “in some capacity” proved 25 per cent more likely than their non-working peers to anticipate graduate jobs within their specialties, demonstrating the “confidence boost” from any type of paid work.

But discipline proved the most influential factor, with 82 per cent of nursing students expressing confidence about being recruited within their field. At the other end of the spectrum, just 45 per cent of creative arts students expected to land graduate arts jobs.

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