survey on what students want out of different careers

What students want out of different careers: new survey reveals all

Have you chosen your career path? Set your sights on law, engineering, investment banking, construction, IT or accountancy? Ever wondered if you’ll find yourself among like-minded people when you start work? Here’s a sneak preview.

The findings are taken from an annual survey carried out by GTI Media, the parent company of Our research should give you some insight into whether you have a similar approach to job hunting to your peers. Or are they stealing a march on you?

The survey asks around 3,000 undergraduates interested in these six key career areas about their approach to career planning and the job hunting process. We also ask recent graduates whether they think their degrees prepared them well for work and how they are enjoying their jobs. For the first time this year, we’ve compared responses across the career sectors, so the findings, which were published last week, highlight the contrasting approaches of students who have set their sights on different professions.

Investment banking

  • Students interested in investment banking were the most likely to have a fall-back plan about what to do if they don’t get a job in their chosen field.
  • This group of students made the most job applications, expected the highest starting salary and were most likely to say that salary was the major reason for their career choice.
  • Only 17% said their perceptions of the sector had become more negative in recent years.


  • Only 7% of female engineering undergraduates were put off by the thought of joining a mainly male working environment.
  • 41% said they would consider alternative careers, especially in finance, business and consulting. This was the lowest percentage of any career sector covered by the survey.
  • Engineering students were the keenest of all to join a sector that made a positive contribution to society.


  • 45% started planning for a legal career before university.
  • Nearly half said they weren't confident about landing a training contract.
  • Although salary was an important consideration, intellectual challenge and the nature of the work were considered more vital.


  • 76% said they were confident about getting a graduate job in the sector – more than for any other career surveyed.
  • Construction undergraduates were the most interested in working abroad and were happiest with their development of soft skills at university.
  • They were more motivated than other students by having a career that brought benefits to society, and less influenced by big salaries.


  • Only 4% of women said the gender imbalance in the IT workforce put them off pursuing a career in the sector.
  • IT students were comparatively uncommitted to job hunting. They made the second smallest number of job applications out of the sectors surveyed. More than half said they would also be looking at alternative careers and they started planning for a career later than other students.
  • More than a quarter of recent IT graduates saw their long-term career outside the industry.


  • 30% had decided on an accountancy career before starting university, though 65% were also considering other careers.
  • The only other students who had made as many applications as would-be accountants were students interested in investment banking.
  • Although students were attracted to the sector by the salaries on offer, when they were asked why they chose specific firms, training, the work itself and the firm’s reputation were all considered more important.

Find out more about our research into students’ attitudes to different careers