From Fresh Grad to Your First Serious Job

For fresh graduates transitioning from the academe to the working world is not an easy task. Not only are there tonnes of stumbling blocks along the way, but there are crises of confidence, of identity, that make fresh grads question whether they can really do it, can really hack it at being adults.

Not only is the job market a very competitive place, to begin with, but for someone without experience, even more so. After conducting some research of our own, we found that there are three big hurdles that fresh graduates face when they make the jump, and these obstacles create a sort of truistic loop for many young people today.

Much like that old joke, “you can’t get experience without a job, and you can’t get a job without experience” -- nobody finds it very funny at all.

Lack of Emotional Maturity

Many students lack the emotional maturity to hurdle the gaps between a college environment and a more challenging, perhaps unfamiliar work setting.

Let’s not mince words: we may be more advanced intellectually but not emotionally, as compared to the generations before us; due to the advent of communication technology and media, students today are consuming more information than ever before yet may not be entirely ready to handle such things. The adult part of our brains, the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for rational thinking and decision-making, is still forming and isn’t ready to apply all that our society throws at it. This is why they say everyone looks backs on their early twenties and cringes.

We all want to be able to experience the world we’ve seen in movies or on Instagram and Facebook -- but some of us don’t know that we’re not ready for that in emotional respect.

How can we set about knowing?

Here’s a basic checklist:

  • Can I keep long-term commitments, even after the novelty wears off?
  • Can I delay gratification sensibly?
  • Am I swayed by flattery?
  • Am I swayed by criticism?
  • Do I usually call attention and praise to myself and my actions?
  • Can I clearly see how others have helped me, or been better than me, and not have a problem with them?
  • Can I make decisions based on my principles?
  • Can I distinguish my principles from my feelings?
  • Do I act proactively?
  • Can I manage my emotions efficiently?
  • Do I exude gratitude in the way I conduct myself?
  • Do I have trouble putting the needs of others above my own?
  • Do I often assume I already know what I’m doing?

Inadequate Preparation

Let’s face it: if we can get away with not doing something, we will. This attitude of coasting isn’t just something that affects students either – but the entire world. In the academic sphere, however, it can have some pretty severe repercussions.

By not learning the nitty-gritty downright dull processes needed to achieve our tasks, we’re not doing the work we’re supposed. Therefore, if we do this for our entire college careers, we may not actually be qualified even though we graduate.

On the other hand, if all we can do is get stuck in the minutiae of processes and not understand the bigger picture of why we need to know these things, then we’re also not preparing ourselves for the working world.

Best bet is not just to work hard, but work smart. So that when the time comes to apply for jobs in your chosen industry, you will know what people are referring to when they test you on what you know, and won’t look like an idiot asking for a job they can’t actually do.

Sudden Financial Demands

Turning 18 is a pivot point in most adults lives. This is when your parents are no longer legally obligated to take care of your financial requirements because you’re recognized by the State as an adult who can generate their own income and make their own decisions.

Graduating college is another pivot point in our adult lives because no longer can we eke past on a student’s budget, but we have to start answering for ourselves like everyone else in the working world.

Not only do we usually have to upgrade the way we look, and talk, and dress, but we also have to take care of expenses that we normally wouldn’t need to bother with while in a dorm, or living at home, or in student housing. We also need to invest in ourselves too, not just make do with what we have and hope that someone hires us because they like us.

When it comes to investing in ourselves, this can take the form of time, money, and dedication. Be it volunteer opportunities, workshops, or professional career services, everything we put towards our development as desirable candidates will put us one step closer to getting a job that we really and truly love.

Professional career services, like CV writing or career counseling, reap great benefits.

You have the opportunity to recognize your intrinsic strengths and weaknesses

Much more focused than if you did so on your own, or in an internship, career counseling and a thorough examination of your psychographic, demographic, qualifications and capabilities will spell out as plain as possible what you are good at, what you need work on, and where you can help.

You gain a clearer understanding of your career path, the job terrain, and opportunities you may take to improve yourself

Sometimes, especially early on, it is common to be open to everything that comes your way, because it is an opportunity. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. The good part is that you will know for certain if you’re cut out for something. The bad part is that you can waste a lot of time and energy figuring that out for yourself.

Having a professional fix your resume for you before you decide to go off and join the circus might help you realize that your skills as an accounting graduate aren’t really being used in a position that requires you to clean up after the elephants.

You have an outline of yourself written in a clear and succinct manner that helps you communicate with companies effectively

Think of your CV as a sort of cheat sheet that helps you communicate clearly. If you write down absolutely everything there is to know about you, and perhaps even embellish on that, then you run the risk of not knowing how to answer basic questions about yourself in an interview – or even how to present yourself and express interest in a cover letter.

Given all these difficulties when it comes to making the jump from student to working professional, it does make sense to invest in yourself and your future.

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  • 7 seconds: this is how long your resume has either to impress or be ignored by the recruiter
  • 300+: average number of applications one corporate job opening posted online receives
  • 3%: number of sent resumes that result in interviews

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