Current Economic Conditions

College seniors preparing to enter the labor market after graduation are likely to face tough odds in 2024. 

Tough economic conditions mean that companies are expecting to reduce the number of graduate hires by 2%, according to a survey of more than 250 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Not only this, but senior graduates this year are competing against any of the young tech hires who have been affected by the mass layoffs seen in 2023. These juniors will already have a few years of experience under their belt, meaning that fresh graduates will face even more competition. 

This can already be seen playing in the figures. A survey from Veris Insights found that, as of February 2024, approximately 25% of college seniors had accepted full-time jobs ahead of graduation, down from 30% in 2023. 

This means that graduates can’t rely on a world where company executives head onto campus to snap up the best talent before their competitors. 

That said, many startups and tech companies are still hiring. Unlike in recent years where employers aim to wrap up campus hiring by the fall, current graduates can expect to see recruitment drives run into spring and summer. 

For those fortunate 25% of graduates who were able to lock in job offers ahead of time, the resounding advice was to be prepared to hustle for those roles. This means going above and beyond to get your name on the radars of recruiters and tapping unexpected connections to rise above other graduates. 

Startup Funding in Q1 2024

Startup funding in Q1 of 2024 has had a slower start to the year. Although funding was up in January, this was in comparison to December 2023, which had been the weakest for venture investment overall in the year prior. 

It’s also been an interesting ride in terms of how funding is distributed across the stages. For one, we’re seeing a huge rise in the normalization of seed rounds of $5 million or more. 

More than 1,500 angel, seed or pre-seed financings met or exceeded this level.

Meanwhile, late-stage funding overall sat at $10 billion, with funding for energy, delivery, semiconductors, quantum and logistics solutions up month on month. 

Yet throughout these trends, AI continues to be the more enduringly popular sector for funding, bolstered by the results from the likes of OpenAI. 10% of all startup funding in the first month of Q1, 2024 went to the AI sector with a particular focus on solutions related to robotics, customer experience, voice synthesis and AI architectures. 

2024 IPO Markets  

In other related news, experts are waiting to see what happens with IPO markets. In the face of unfavorable market conditions, companies have been biding their time before going public. 

While the conditions for 2024 still aren’t certain, if all the companies waiting in line to make an exit pull the trigger it will have major knock-on impacts for the rest of the funding pipeline. For one it will open up funding across stages for startups moving up through earlier stages and give investor confidence a much-needed boost. 

Reddit’s IPO bolds well for the industry, with the tech company’s price increasing by 48% in its NYSE debut.