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News » Campus protests may impact employment prospects, HR experts say

Campus protests may impact employment prospects, HR experts say

Photo from AFP

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES — Recent demonstrations against the war in Gaza on U.S. college campuses have raised concerns about the potential employment repercussions for graduating students involved in these protests. 

In a Fortune article, industry experts provide a mixed outlook on the long-term effects of student activism on employment opportunities.

“I don’t think that simply being a student of one of those schools will necessarily negatively impact their chances of getting a job,” said Emily Levine, executive vice president at Career Group Companies, a recruitment firm. “Students have every right to attend a peaceful protest.”

However, Levine cautioned that formal charges from illegal protests could be problematic. “It’s when a protest and students are involved in hate speech, violence, vandalism, and illegal activities that they can be arrested and suspended for [that it could] hurt people’s chances of getting positions.”

Around 2,200 protesters have reportedly been arrested for illegally occupying campuses since last month.

Shifting recruitment trends

Some HR experts note that the recent protests might accelerate an existing trend of companies diversifying their recruiting efforts away from Ivy League schools, which are often seen as epicenters of student activism.

“Over the last couple of years, there has been a tendency to move away from the dependency on the Ivy Leagues,” said Gary Goldenstein, CEO of Whitney Group, a financial executive search firm. He warned all students from protest-hit schools may face bias. 

“Corporate recruiters are looking more to liberal arts colleges or state schools.”

Tom Gimbel, CEO of recruiting firm LaSalle Network, said some CEOs may avoid top colleges with high-profile protests altogether. “You’re gonna see a lot of financial services and consulting firms hire kids from non-coastal schools, non-Northeast, and more state colleges,” he said.

On the other hand, Hims CEO Andrew Dudum believes that many companies are still “eager to hire” college protesters, “regardless of university discipline.”

Uncertainty in the long-term impact of protests on job hiring

The protests reflect broader cultural and generational shifts within the workforce. Many young workers, particularly those from Generation Z, prioritize alignment between their personal beliefs and their employers’ values.

Gimbel noted the impact could be short-lived. “CEOs don’t want to get into issues of having to figure out who was part of what or where at Columbia, Harvard, or MIT.” 

But he added, “If there’s one thing we’ve learned, this country has a very short memory. Hiring might shift for a little while, he explains, but the campus conflict situation feels too premature for many HR experts to predict long-lasting implications.”

Levine agreed it’s “too soon to tell” if recruiting will change long-term. “And I don’t know how long [the protest movement] is going to last.”

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