Insights from the Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study.

By David Smith, Senior Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization and

Katherine LaVelle, Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization, North America Lead


Why do new college graduates end up so disillusioned, underemployed and undervalued after a couple years of work?

Analysis of data from the Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study shows that the issue is, at least in part, about the commitment of employers to the growth and advancement of a generation of workers with new and distinctive needs and expectations.

Grads are wary of large companies. They want a more personalized work and career experience and they’re not getting it. They want interesting and meaningful work, but they’re not getting it. They want an open and engaging culture, but they’re not getting it.


If large companies expect to attract and retain the best and brightest, they need to deliver a different kind of work experience—what we’re calling an internal gig experience.

That means offering the security of full-time employment, but at the same time moving employees from gig to gig internally—taking a project-based perspective with more frequent job rotation.



– University grads are passionate, committed and willing to work hard, but maybe not for your organization.

– Passion and commitment are more than apparent across this year’s university graduates. But only 1 in 7 grads wants to work for a large company. Many fear being lost in the maze of large company politics and advancement.

– New and recent grads are looking for a “me” experience.

– Many recent grads feel underemployed and disillusioned. Grads are looking for more of a “me” experience, where their passions will be acknowledged and their career path customized to their interests.

– To be relevant, companies need to provide multiple career paths and varied, engaging experiences.

– Applying the concepts from the new idea of the gig economy, companies can deliver internal gig experiences— project-based work, lots of lateral movement, lots of on-the-job learning, coaching and real-time feedback, and lots of ways to advance.




The Accenture Strategy 2016 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study highlights the disparity between new graduate expectations and the reality of the working world, and examines how employers can improve the employee experience to attract and retain top talent.



Here are some to-dos that can help companies deliver an internal gig experience.

– Hyper-personalize your talent strategy. Tailor a comprehensive entry-level talent strategy centered around an individualized approach.

– Orient employee value propositions toward a dynamic work environment. Look for workers who can be flexible and work in different roles.

– Connect employees’ work to the purpose of the organization. Increase job rotations to provide employees more variety and visibility to the organization’s broader operations and strategy.

– Re-imagine the learning and development experience. Make learning more informal and experiential, emphasizing on-the-job learning, coaching and real-time feedback.

– Think “agile.” Incorporate concepts like design thinking into your talent strategy.

– Provide a small-team feel. Create a sense of ownership and empowerment.