Students Make Purpose a Priority

More students are defining success as a product of their social impact, not their paychecks.

What do today’s 19- to 26-year-olds want most from their future careers? A sense of purpose, according to the Future Skills Survey conducted last summer by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in the United Kingdom.

Eighty-nine percent of young people surveyed define success as having a positive impact upon society and others. In addition, 60 percent believe businesses should make a stronger commitment to corporate social responsibility, especially when it comes to solving global challenges.

More than two thirds—69 percent—anticipate having more than one career over their lifetimes, with half of respondents wanting to start their own businesses. This group cites flexibility and “good work-life balance” as their top priorities in their careers. “Earning a large paycheck” ranks eleventh.

The survey included responses from more than 3,700 individuals in the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa, and China. Each respondent either was enrolled in a university program or had graduated in the last three years.

“Our survey results show that meaningful initiatives to address global agendas are no longer just ‘a nice to have,’ but rather are demanded by young people and others in society,” says Peter Tufano, Peter Moores, Dean and professor of finance.

“We may be moving to a world in which individuals work in multiple industries and undertake several retraining periods in their long working lives. The challenge for business schools is to adapt and rethink the timing and structure of a ‘lifetime of education.’”