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International Appeal: The 10 Countries Where College Grads Want to Work

big ben By Andrew Strieber

According to a new study by CareerCast.com and the employment information provider Going Global, this year a majority of new college graduates are hoping to start their fledgling careers in New York City. Some, however, may feel that the city that never sleeps still isn't enough. For those who find the prospect of an international career more appealing, CareerCast.com and Going Global's study also surveys college placement offices representing a selection of both American and foreign-born students to determine the most-popular spots around the globe for launching a new career.

Although the percentage of U.S.-born students who look to move abroad after graduation has dropped, the United States doesn't get the most votes among students asked to name the countries where they want to work. Instead, the United Kingdom ranks first, leading runner-up China by a margin of 16%. The UK's vibrancy and diverse economy attracts many students, and while the global economic downturn has hampered growth, China continues to offer opportunities for rapid success. Rounding out the top five choices are the U.S., France, and Australia -- all wealthy countries with popular major cities and exciting cultures. Looking at the nations in the survey's bottom five, however, yields some surprises, as traditional business centers Singapore and South Korea are both tied for last with Ireland, and all three countries are preferred by just 10% of students, according to the survey of placement offices.

Here are the top 10 countries where American students want to start a new career:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. China
  3. United States
  4. France
  5. Australia
  6. Japan
  7. Germany
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Spain
  10. Italy

In comparison, when CareerCast's survey asks international students about their favorite job-hunting destinations, the results are somewhat different. The first three choices – UK, U.S. and China – remain the same, but the top five is completed by Hong Kong and rising power India, which American students rank at 8th and 11th, respectively. The international top 10 also includes Canada, which Americans rank 13th, while excluding Spain and Italy (ranked 11th and 14th), two nations known more for cultural than economic power.

Here are the top 10 countries among foreign-born students looking for employment opportunities:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. China
  3. United States
  4. Hong Kong
  5. India
  6. Japan
  7. Australia
  8. Germany
  9. Canada
  10. France

While the United States ranks third among both sets of graduates, Going Global president Mary Anne Thompson says foreign students are now more likely to "migrate after graduation rather than stay." Combine this with the fact that fewer young Americans are choosing to pursue their careers abroad, and employment markets could potentially become less diverse in the future.

Choosing where you want to start your career after graduation is often challenging, and many students wind up changing locations several times before finding a permanent home. However, if you've done your research and are set on a move to New York, Boston or Beijing, rest assured that you'll find plenty of company when you get there.

But choosing where you want to work is only useful when you also know what kind of career you seek. If you're having trouble selecting a profession, CareerCast.com's ranking of 200 different jobs can help. It ranks jobs based on such factors such as stress, physical demands, income and job satisfaction, as well as offers a rating of the 10 best jobs and 10 worst jobs in today's market.


Kelly Jones

I graduated last May with a degree in Marketing and would have loved to go international to start my career. Before graduation I sat down with my advisor to research international jobs. However, we concluded staying in New Jersey and finding a job was the right choice for me at the time. I am glad I listened. I am saving money in order to move across seas to find a job where I can start a career. I am leaning towards Italy as I am part Italian and would love to live where my ancestors did, so I am glad to see that country in the top 10. By any chance, do you know where Poland and Switzerland ranked? They are the other two countries I am considering starting over in.

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