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Accounting Gen Z interns: “We’re not lazy!”

Written on Jun 18, 2024

The “lazy” label persists with Gen Z, and now 433 interns across tax, audit and advisory service lines KPMG surveyed for its Intern Pulse Survey are sounding off. 

The survey shows: 

  • Gen Z talent is seeking stability amid a tight labor market and is pushing back against the notion that they are lazy. 

  • Gen Z is fully embracing GenAI – both in their personal and professional lives – and the availability of AI-related training is an important factor when considering a future employer. 

  • Gen Z strongly values a positive culture and working environment with opportunities to engage coworkers in-person and up-level their soft skills, but don’t forget salary. 

  • Gen Z values home ownership most when it comes to their long-term financial goals and most plan to vote in the U.S. presidential election this year. 

“Purpose, culture, sustainability and opportunity are all important factors as Gen Z talent consider job opportunities, but this generation is more confident talking about what they need – from salary to work-life-balance. It’s important that employers continue to actively manage these expectations,” Derek Thomas, National Partner-in-Charge, University Talent Acquisition at KPMG U.S., said in a statement. 

When asked for the top three factors they value most in a future employer, respondents identified salary as most common (25%), closely followed by a positive culture and working environment (24%) and opportunities for advancement (20%). Scheduling flexibility (15%) was an additional factor, followed by learning and development as well as benefits—such as good options for paid time off, health care/dental/vision coverage, and mental health benefits and programs. 

Additional findings: 

  • 78% agree or somewhat agree that an employer’s ESG efforts (e.g., prioritizes environment/sustainability; is committed to DEI and social equity; and demonstrates ethical business practices) is an important factor when considering a job/employer. 

  • 89% agree or somewhat agree that access to training on “soft skills” or professional skills (e.g., presentation skills, executive presence, client etiquette, interpersonal skills) is an important factor when considering a job/employer. 

  • 82% believe a hybrid work model will provide the most opportunity for growth as they start their career. However, the survey does not find a significant desire for fully in-person or remote work. 14% believe that fully in-person will be most conducive to career growth, and only 4% think that fully remote is best. 

Also of note: Nearly half of all respondents, 48%, believe that 20% of their future full-time job as it exists today will be automated by AI. Thirty-nine percent are using ChatGPT frequently, 14% say they’ve never used it. A little more than half (51%) use generative AI for work-related purposes (or claim to be doing so), be it for administrative tasks not detailed in the survey results of project-based tasks. Almost three-quarters (72%) agree that being offered AI-related training and tools is an important factor when looking at potential employers. 

A KPMG 2022 survey found alumni who stayed with KPMG for an extra year saw an 18% increase in their annual compensation value. Projecting this accelerated earnings potential over a nearly 40-year career period could potentially yield millions in extra lifetime earnings. 

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