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Entrepreneurship? “Not for me,” most college students say

Mark Zuckerberg might have been cast by the media as a Gen Y hero, but it turns out that not too many twenty-somethings want to emulate him. Most college students say they do not aspire to entrepreneurship. Asked in a recent survey if they are interested in starting a company in the next few years, more than 60 percent said “no” and only 8 percent said they are “very” interested. Only about one in five students wish their school offered entrepreneurship courses.

AfterCollege, an online career network for college students and recent graduates, surveyed 600 of its registered college students from a variety of U.S. colleges and universities. The resulting report, issued jointly today with Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm run by 29-year-old Dan Schawbel, reveals how students are developing their careers while in college. The outlook is rather grim.

According to "The Student Employment Study," most students do take internships, but most don’t get paid for them, and most don’t get a job offer out of the deal either. Nearly half of students surveyed have not had a job interview in the past six months.

Whether businesses, students, or colleges are to blame is not clear, but Schawbel suggests students need to be more aggressive. Internships and resumes don’t turn into jobs anymore, he says. “Students have to be accountable for their careers, prepare for the job market as early as freshman year and start building their networks,” says the consultant.

The survey found that although nearly three-fourths of students feel college has prepared them for the working world, many also want colleges to offer networking opportunities, more focus on learning how to get jobs, and more career fairs and alumni support.

Most surprisingly, while 90 percent of this generation of digital natives admits to using Facebook frequently or occasionally, and nearly 80 percent say the same for YouTube, they are largely ignoring professional social networks instead of using them to brand and market themselves to employers. Only 26 percent turn to social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook when job searching.

Instead, they believe visiting employers’ websites is the most important way to find a job: 70 percent say they turn to an employer's website first; 65 percent speak to someone who already works at the company where they hope to work; 61 percent attend a school career fair; and 58 percent search an online job site. Forty-four percent of those surveyed only apply to between one and five jobs at a time.

Schawbel told Forbes that applying for too few jobs is one of the five biggest mistakes college job seekers are making. For the other four, see his interview today with Forbes writer Susan Adams.

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