Yikes! Hey college students and young professionals, the job outlook this year for entry-level positions isn’t looking so good. College homework help
So, the following tips are for students and recent grads (all 2.5+M of you) who aren’t afraid to hear the hard truth about the American workplace. You may not like what you read, but if you really want to get ahead and find work that makes you happy, then you must face reality head on. Think of it as a paper cut – you can either apply the right care to it now, or you can ignore it, only to wake up and find it infected. Which will you do? I work with hundreds of professionals who always tell me the same thing, “I wish I had known these tips when I was starting out.” So please, don’t ignore the facts. A jump start to a better future is available to those who heed these tips – guaranteed.
TIP #1: You are the most educated generation to enter the workforce, but you are also viewed as the least prepared. Don’t be blind-sided by your generation’s professional reality.
Your generation, Generation NEXT (also known as Gen Y & Millenials) is the largest and most educated generation to enter the workforce in US history (over 70% plan to get undergraduate degrees and another 40% plan to get advanced degrees). Unfortunately, you are also seen as professionally immature and a huge challenge in the workplace. How did this happen? A little historical perspective helps to explain…
Years ago, getting a degree was a privilege and done with intent. If you were lucky enough to go to college, you knew what you were studying and what your career would be before you even began. You could expect a nice starting salary and a bright financial future. You also could count on a lifetime of employment and lots of career development from a single firm. A gold watch and a retirement package were often your reward for loyal years of service.
Fast forward to today: there are thousands of colleges and anyone who wants to go can get in somewhere. Thus, a college degree doesn’t get you a ‘leg up,’ it just allows you to ‘step up’ to the career starting line. Inflation has outpaced starting salaries, and the average student graduates $17+K debt but without the professional experience and focus of those who graduated years ago. As many as 4 out of 5 college students have to move home after school because they can’t afford to live on their own. In short, a college degree today is more expensive – but the return on the investment is down significantly.
TIP #2: The other generations in the workforce don’t have much compassion for your situation. You are being incorrectly perceived as lazy, entitled and arrogant. Don’t validate these beliefs by ignoring their concerns, instead, work to overcome them.
The other generations in the workforce think you deserve some ‘tough love.’ They are frustrated by your attitude in the workplace. The generations before you worked hard, paid their dues in jobs they didn’t enjoy, and now want respect for their professional battle scars. Many of them had to pay for school themselves and didn’t have the option or time to identify a career they could get excited about. The pressure to pay the bills and be out on their own forced them to put their professional satisfaction on the back burner. So, they don’t appreciate you criticizing or challenging the workplace they created. These actions go against how they were raised on-the-job. And while no one expects you to follow in their footsteps, you do need to recognize that work experience is critical to developing your own knowledge and skills. We don’t run until we learn to walk, right? So, it’s time to consider that you your views and opinions on-the-job may not be fully grown yet. Before you offer advice on how a situation should be improved in the workplace, take the time to seek out the varying generational perspectives of those that have been there before you and make an effort to understand their point of view. The best employees know how to ‘manage up.’ That means, coaching those above you in order to get the results you desire. The first and most important rule in coaching is , “Ask, don’t tell.” If you want to change a person’s point of view, you need to broaden their perspective by asking questions that will provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of their position.
Here’s something to consider: Generation NEXT is known as compassionate and socially responsible. You are worried about the world and care about those around you. So why not include the generations above you in your efforts to create a better world? Share with them your ideas and enthusiasm, but respect their knowledge and time spent in the trenches. Assess your thoughts and think carefully about how you convey yourself on-the-job. Your opinions do matter, but will only be heard if you can articulate them in a way that connects you to those you wish to influence. Learn to speak their language, and all ears will be on you.
TIP #3: DON’T road trip, backpack or ‘take a year off’ without thinking about your career first. Those who delay to play, often pay!
As graduation approaches, many students feel the pressure of career and think, “I’ve done what’s expected of me and now I deserve to do something for myself.” However, rewarding yourself without at least organizing your plans for career before you go can make embarking on a job search when you return more difficult. Here are some stats to consider: Landing an entry-level job after school (from start to finish) averages at least two months. The process of finding the job opportunity, going on the interviews, receiving and accepting the job offer, and then starting the job, all take time. It is easier to manage this process when you are close to resources (i.e. campus career center) and a network of peers who are in the midst of finding work too. All too often, college grads put off their career homework until after they’re done having fun. They return home and suddenly find themselves alone and without the support of their friends and school to help them. Add in the potential pressure of parents over your shoulder, inquiring about your progress, and looking for a job can become very overwhelming. I once had an angry father call me to inquire about my services for his son because, in his own words, “My son just got back from a 7-month road trip of fun only for me to find out he has no idea of what he wants to do or how to find a job. What did I spent $80K on a college education for?!?!” This father-son relationship was quite strained, and much of my time coaching this new college grad was spent trying to get him to stop beating himself up for not taking responsibility for his future. Don’t get stuck in this position. You must consider the consequences of your actions.