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KPMG Intern Pulse Survey: Gen Z Talent is Ready for AI-enhanced Job and Career, Wants to Invest Time with their First Employer, and Debunk Stereotypes

More than one-third of respondents plan to stay with their first employer for over 5 years

May 21, 2024

Gen Z professionals are ready to invest time in their first job to prepare for a career shaped by AI, according to a recent survey from KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm. This generation expects their employers to provide a positive working environment with opportunities for advancement supported by trainings related to AI and softer skills, such as client etiquette and executive presence. The survey also finds that Gen Z professionals’ priorities clash with what they say is the biggest misconception about their generation – lack of work ethic.

“Within our intern and early-career programs, there is a high level of energy from Gen Z on building their skill sets to grow in their careers,” said Derek Thomas, National Partner-in-Charge, University Talent Acquisition at KPMG U.S. “They have high expectations around transparency and are very willing to have conversations around salary expectations, mental health challenges, work-life balance and career mobility. It is up to company leaders to navigate these expectations if they want to remain competitive in the current labor market.”

KPMG surveyed over 430 of its U.S. interns across the firm’s Tax, Audit and Advisory functions to better understand their general sentiment around workforce expectations, GenAI, media consumption, spending habits and more.

Key takeaways from the survey include:

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

THOMAS: “Contrasting the narrative of job hopping, our survey finds Gen Z wants to invest more time in their first job to gain valuable skills. We consistently find that, generally speaking, an extra year or two at KPMG results in our alumni earning more income in the years to come."[1]

  • In the early stages of their career, 65% of respondents value working towards and dedicating time to their long-term career goals over spending time with family and friends, traveling and experiences (35%).
  • 34% of respondents plan to stay with their first employer/in their first job for over five years, while 24% plan to stay with their first employer/in their first job for two to five years.
  • A vast majority (90%) of Gen Z respondents believe the biggest misconception about their generation is that they are lazy and do not want to work hard. 

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

THOMAS: “Gen Z talent expect AI to shape their careers and are already engaging with the technology in both their personal and professional lives. Employers should meet them where they are to ensure AI-related trainings and tools impact their productivity, creativity and ability to balance work and life.”

  • Nearly half (48%) of all respondents believe that 20% of their future full-time job as it exists today will be automated by AI. 23% believe 30-40% of their first job will be automated by AI.
  • When asked how often they use GenAI tools in their day-to-day life (both during their internship and personally), 39% use ChatGPT frequently, if not every day, while only 14% report never using it.  
  • 51% use GenAI for work-related purposes – both for administrative purposes and project-based tasks. 43% use the technology for school-related purposes and 42% use it for personal reasons.
  • 72% of respondents agree that access to AI-related trainings and tools provided by an employer is an important factor when considering a job/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.

THOMAS: “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.”

  • 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, healthcare/dental/vision coverage, and mental health benefits and programs.
  • 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 trainings 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. 

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.

THOMAS: “Gen Z talent’s early focus on career success aligns to their long-term financial goals to support a well-rounded life with home ownership, the ability to raise a family and retire comfortably.”

  • When considering their long-term financial goals, respondents value saving to buy a house (31%), saving for future family-related expenses such as childcare (20%), paying off debt (18%) and saving for retirement (16%) the most.
  • A majority (53%) of respondents get most of their news updates from social media platforms, with Instagram, TikTok and X leading the way. 44% take a more traditional route, consuming traditional news via online news sites, cable TV and print.
  • 57% do most of their shopping online either with delivery or in-store pick up, while 41% primarily shop at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
  • 69% plan to watch the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, while 31% say they will not be tuning in.
  • When asked about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, 82% say they plan to vote. 

# # #

About the KPMG Intern Pulse Survey

The KPMG Intern Pulse Survey encompasses responses from 433 KPMG U.S. interns across the firm’s Tax, Audit and Advisory functions. The survey was conducted between February 29 and March 18. KPMG offers paid internships to over 3,000 college students and graduates annually.


KPMG LLP is the U.S. firm of the KPMG global organization of independent professional services firms providing audit, tax and advisory services. The KPMG global organization operates in 143 countries and territories and has more than 273,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

KPMG is widely recognized for being a great place to work and build a career. Our people share a sense of purpose in the work we do, and a strong commitment to community service, inclusion and diversity and eradicating childhood illiteracy. Learn more at


[1] 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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2024 KPMG Intern Pulse Survey

Click to download an infographic with key findings from the survey

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