Andesa Services recently completed a five-year strategic plan to guide us from 2016 to 2020. As we were finishing up the project, I began to reflect on the new hires we would be recruiting in the final year of that plan, many of whom would be graduating with the Class of 2019.
“What advice could I provide during this transition from high school to college that would better prepare those recruits for a transition from college to the working world in only a few short years?” My guidance would focus on some basic blocking and tackling that helped me years ago. Do your homework. Analyze several options. Set goals and map out actions to achieve the goals. Stick to it when things get tough.
But I also realize how much the world has changed since my college experience. Our future recruits would be better served by asking the advice of some more recent college graduates who have made the successful transition to the working world in the current era. I sat down with software developers Thomas Bare, Colin Hill, and Kevin Sweinhart, along with client service representatives Amantha Bowen and Mike Maciag to get a fresh perspective on how difficult the life transition can be. Are there lessons they learned that could help the next aspiring developer or business analyst successfully navigate early career challenges?
Our discussion focused on three major recommendations.
Enjoy the college experience
Beginning to embrace adulthood is part of the college experience. This is a four-or-five-year transition state – plan for the future but live for the moment. The college years are about learning to be on your own, making your own decisions, living with someone you are not related to, meeting new friends, and being responsible for your own self. It is time of structured freedom with a responsibility to learn. The time provides an opportunity to experiment with your passion in a focused setting and the ability to learn about that which you are not passionate. Do not be afraid to change your major – college is about acquiring a more in-depth understanding of who you are.
Be Open Minded
One of our team noted they learned a lot of what they needed to know to graduate, but classwork didn’t necessarily teach employable skills. What one learns outside the class room may be more important in “the real world.” Social skills, communication skills, leadership in a club or organization, and balancing priorities are examples of critical life skills which are often obtained during focused (not “fluffy”) internships or through extra-curricular activities. Explore; take advantage of opportunities the institution offers. While the Millennial generation has been taught that they are uniquely special and should pursue their passions, that doesn’t guarantee a dream job will be waiting the month after graduation. Perhaps you should relax your expectations. Look for a job where there are individuals in place to be your mentor. Look for a company that values employees and demonstrates a mutual respect toward its staff–is willing to believe in what you could become and is willing to help you get there.
Keep in mind your self-value
I was introduced to the term “quarter-life crisis.” It often occurs when things haven’t worked out exactly as one has envisioned (usually by the mid-20’s). It is a sense of frustration, of being lost and unsettled. This is the part of the life cycle when one discovers who they truly are and who they are going to become. Some individuals can become despondent, while others use the feelings as an opportunity to inspire personal growth. For the most part, a quarter-life crisis isn’t a crisis of self; it is a crisis of expectations. “When you’re sucked into a path that you hadn’t foreseen, you have it within you to change that path.” Embrace the unexpected direction. Focus, reassess, establish new goals and don’t ever lose perspective of your self-worth. The struggle makes you stronger, boosts confidence and makes you appreciate more what you’ve earned.
My instincts were correct – this advice is much more relevant and timely than I could have provided. I am so grateful to work with a fantastic group of Millennials who think deeply and passionately about life.