The Post-Graduation Reality

by sysop in From Campus to Career

A Long Way From Home 1

by Kristina Burroughs

To many recent college graduates, stepping into the world of full-time employment seems like a college foreign immersion program, except it is real life! There is no professor assigned to guide you through the transition – you are on your own! For an adjusting Millennial in the workforce, there are some cultural norms and reality adjustments you should consider in order to be successful as you step into the work force.

There are some misconceptions about what you were told in college versus the realities that await you upon graduation. Here are a few foundational truths that will help you to adjust:

  • Perception: You will land a long-term DREAM job upon graduation. If you are fortunate enough, you may get to do something enjoyable for a while, but it is more likely that you find yourself in a great organization where you are required to answer the phones, support others in what they enjoy doing, and keep the office organized; all of which seem wildly disconnected from the subject of your college studies.

 Reality:  This is a good thing! It will only make you a better linchpin in the organization because you will know the ins and outs of the organization. You will build the lost disciplines of patience, trustworthiness, and dependability.  Trust us; your hard work will not go unnoticed.


  • Perception: Employers would be LUCKY to have you and they are anxiously awaiting your graduation. With the instability of the economy and the heavy regulations that are being put on some businesses, landing a job where you can really feel like you’re making a difference and contributing is a privilege and rarity.

 Reality: The regulatory landscape of America is changing and although it is still the land of opportunity – and we hope it will continue to be – future and current generations entering the workforce may have to adjust what they define as a “great job” and be appreciative for the opportunity to work at all.


  • Perception: Your academic STUDIES in college prepared you well for the workforce and will help you get promoted. It is rare that graduates use or apply their college major or minors to the work they find after college. How many times have you heard people say that after an expensive four year education they do not want to work in that specific field? It is rare that any employer will give you a syllabus with a grading score on how to get a promotion. In fact, in some cases you do not even get training. You have to figure it out and write your own syllabus for how you will get up to speed and learn your job.

 Reality: The great news is that the academic path to education rarely prepares you for the practical experience in the marketplace; however, it does prepare you in other ways. Your transferable skills from college include writing and other communication skills, team-building, time management, stress-management, and the ability to juggle multiple deadlines and projects at the same time. Those are certainly applicable!

If you can acknowledge some of these potential misconceptions as you begin your job search and accept the realities and benefits of the truth, you will be positioned to immerse yourself just fine. Just like with any immersion program, it takes some time to adjust to the culture shock of a different way of life.