Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

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Invasion of the College Grads


  • The Class of 2001’s job outlook is good.
  • Grads may have to work their way up and in a team setting.

They’re here: Freshly scrubbed and graduated, the members of the Class of 2001 have entered the workforce.

Every summer, there is a rite of passage in the world of work. A crop of new ones come in and, too often, a crop of the not-so-new ones get worried.

It does not matter whether these graduates enter the job market armed with degrees from two-year technical institutions or advanced degrees from major colleges — they all start as freshmen at "first real job university." And despite some concerns about the strength of our nation’s economy and the outlook for entry-level job seekers (and everyone else, for that matter), it looks like our grads are doing just fine, thank you very much.

The average starting salary for college graduates is about $36,000. For engineers and those in the computer sciences, add another $10,000. Salaries in education start at nearly $39,000, marketing at $34,000 and advertising at about $28,000. Early indications show employers may need to hire 23 percent more college graduates from the Class of 2001 than they did from the previous graduating class. In addition, it is expected that about one-fifth of all job offers made this summer will be to new college graduates.

The best and the brightest of this new crew know learning doesn’t end with school. And I’m not just talking about life-long learning and skills development. The reality is, working in the real world is tough and learning that may be the toughest part of all.

For example, most recent college grads bring a wealth of technology and computer experience to the table. What does that mean for some folks and their first jobs? Answer: At first, you’ll do a lot more typing and a lot less programming then you might have expected. But do not despair. Rome was not built in a day. Neither was Microsoft.

Keep in mind that college (high school and grade school, too) rewards individual achievement. So for many, the concept of working in groups or teams may be as foreign as a Swahili 101 class. Yes, the corporate recruiter was impressed with your leadership skills in school (volleyball team captain or fraternity president), but your immediate supervisor will be more impressed with how you work with your project team or colleagues. One of the most amazing things about the modern workplace is that individuals can shine bright as part of a team, and that teamwork excellence is a major criterion for advancing in corporate leadership.

There will be other surprises and disappointments, too. Your team will be asked to make a major presentation in Paris…in the spring…for two weeks all on the company’s time and dime. You will also be asked to work long hours and weekends. You will be asked for your opinion on the strategy. You will be asked to photocopy documents while everybody else gets to go to lunch. You will be asked to learn French — immediately. And when the time comes, you will not be asked to go on the trip. Deal with it. Your time will come, and sooner than you think.

Those of us who have been around the world of work a little longer and have perhaps become a bit "job blasé," can learn a thing or two from these new recruits. This is a generation that is fearless when it comes to technology, especially compared to some of us who break into hives when we hear the word "database." This is a generation where diversity is viewed as more of the norm, and where men and women work and compete on a more equal field. Most important, these new graduates, with their energy and enthusiasm, can also remind us every now and then that what we do and how we do it is much more important than title, office location and salary.

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