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Careers In Tech Or Finance? Gen Z & Millennials Have Different Views

What’s a better fit for your career: a top multinational bank, or an innovation-driven tech firm? The answer depends on when you were born, according to a new survey

Tue Mar 26 2024

Consulting remains the most popular post-graduation sector for those considering business school, however Gen Z and millennial candidates differ over the next most desirable sector, a new survey has revealed. 

According to the 2024 Prospective Students Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), millennials—a term typically used to refer to the generation born between 1981 and 1996—would prioritize careers in technology, however Gen Z candidates—born between 1997 and 2012—would be more likely to opt for the financial sector. 

Consulting has historically been the most popular industry for ambitious professionals considering enrolling at business school, with finance and tech completing the triumvirate of top sectors. 

Candidates surveyed in 2023 for this year’s study continued the trend. As many as 51% of millennials and 50% of Gen Z respondents ranked consulting as their top sector. A further 45% of millennials then opted for technology, compared to 36% of Gen Z; while 43% of Gen Z chose financial services, versus just 32% of millennials. 

Outside of the three most popular sectors, investment banking and asset management also ranked among candidates’ preferred choices. An industry closely entwined with the financial sector, this was also a more popular career path among Gen Z respondents (35%) than millennials (29%). 

Other sectors valued by respondents from both generations included professional services, consumer products, government, healthcare and biotechnology, energy and petroleum, nonprofits, and real estate. 

Entrepreneurship, a career path that proves attractive for business school students each year, was more popular among millennials than Gen Z. The report noted this could be influenced by their having more work experience and being more tolerant to professional risks. 

Along with age, the survey also showed that gender and regional location have an influence on candidates’ industry preferences.

Female business school candidates were more interested than their male counterparts in the consumer products, media and communication, and nonprofit sectors. While men expressed greater interest in financial services, investment banking, and technology. 

Candidates based in Central and South Asia showed a particularly high interest in the technology sector, while those living in the Middle East and Africa were more likely to list petroleum and energy as their preferred post-study sector. 

A significant proportion of business school candidates in Africa revealed interests in both launching and running businesses. In total, 46% desired to become entrepreneurs while 42% wanted to become CEOs. 

Elsewhere, the survey also revealed changing demands among prospective students over the contents of the b-school curriculum. In line with the rapid growth of artificial intelligence within business, more candidates showed desire for AI to be taught into the classroom. Teaching focused on sustainable development principles was also revealed to be an essential for many respondents. 

Prospective Students Survey