College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

Early career change among millennial US college graduates

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Public Service Management


early career change, millennial, jobs, US graduates, planned happenstance


With employers reporting high turnover among millennial employees, there is a need for better understanding of employment characteristics of this generation of workers. By analyzing the job history of 1,000 American millennials who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth, this study found that 26% of millennial US college graduates changed careers within the first five years after obtaining their degree, but no more than past generations when they were young. Analysis also found that flexibility and optimism are not significant predictors of early career change but openness to risk has a strong positive association with early career change particularly among Hispanic millennials. Additional findings include the frequency and rate of early career change by career cluster, by major, and by gender.