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  • Employers Prefer Their New College Hires to Have Work Experience

    BETHLEHEM, PA—When it comes to the qualities that employers seek in their new college hires, work experience is among the most valued, according to results of an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    NACE’s Job Outlook 2018 survey found that beyond seeking candidates who possess attributes like problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership skills, employers specifically look for candidates who have completed internships and cooperative education assignments (co-ops)—both within their own organizations and within their industries. On a lesser scale, they look for candidates who have general work experience.  

    There are several reasons why prior work experience—especially that with the hiring organization—is important. For example, that familiarity between the organization and candidate aids the employer’s retention efforts. NACE research shows that interns who have prior experience within an organization have an average retention rate of 70.6 percent after one year, as compared to 65.8 percent for candidates who have internship experience with another organization and 46.3 percent for hires with no internship experience at all.

    Students, too, realize the importance of gaining work experience. Among the Class of 2017, more than 62 percent reported that they completed an internship and/or co-op during their college careers.

    About the Job Outlook 2018 survey: Data for the Job Outlook 2018 survey were collected from NACE’s employer members from August 9, 2017, through October 2, 2017. A total of 201 surveys were returned—a 20.5 percent response rate. Of those responding, 14.4 percent of respondents were from the West, 25.9 percent were from the Northeast, 23.9 percent were from the Southeast, and 35.8 percent were from the Midwest. The Job Outlook 2018 report is available for purchase at

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.