Yikes! Hey college students and young professionals, the job outlook this year for entry-level positions isn’t looking so good.
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 …