What Companies Expect from Recent Graduates; What College Does NOT Prepare You For

When people are ready to take the next step in their lives, college is frequently seen as the most valuable path to take. It is the river of knowledge that individuals seek to receive training to enter the workforce. But does college really train students for what companies expect from them?

Throughout my college experience, I have learned valuable lessons for my entrance into the corporate world:

  • Experience is crucial to help you stand out.Completing internships provides the hands-on knowledge of what working in the real world is like. Internships offer a good overview of a specific industry to help students decide on what career they want. It shows companies just how passionate someone is about their chosen career field.
  • First impressions can make or break you.Dress-to-impress those you are interested in working for. It’s simple: would you hire someone who dressed like they’re casually going to the mall?
  • Resume, resume, and resume: Colleges do not stress enough that the career services department is always available. The resume is considered the first ‘first impression’ before the interview even takes place.

A few months ago, a graduate student teacher of mine discussed important information about how companies function and what they expect from employees. He/she randomly asked a few friends who work in corporate settings about newly hired college graduates. What was shared with the class startled me, but came as no surprise: College does not teach the simple basics about the work environment such as taking notes or where you should sit in a meeting; the things you generally do not think about. Now, with me being the Curious George that I am, I wanted to see if this can happen anywhere.

I sat down with KNB Senior Account Executive Kate Ottavio Kent to see what her opinions are concerning this matter from her own personal experience.

When Kate was just starting to get her career off the ground, there was a time where she was still in the learning process at a company, and did not know what the nuances of working in the “real world” were. It was not until she had a helping hand from a colleague advising what was expected from her, that she began to understand corporate life.
“There were very few instances when a teacher would explain a work life lesson, and I wish there were more,” Kate explains.

In the PR industry, client relationships play a key role in maintaining an agency’s success. How someone interacts is extremely important when it comes to working with others. But just having a great personality is just the beginning; there must be a passion for the field with a hunger for knowledge.

What is meant by passion is the amount of participation that someone can bring to a company. For example, note taking is considered one of the most important tactics, whether it is during a meeting or when planning out things for the week. It gives off the impression that you:
A) Care about what is going on
B) Want to learn
C) Are organized

Passion can also include how someone presents themselves at the office. However, if there is a constant vibe of ‘boredom’ being given off, they can quickly be perceived as negative by others. It is important to be focused and a participant during work hours; whether by asking questions, including a personal opinion in a meeting, or even casually talking with other co-workers.

“Even a crazy idea can turn in a brilliant idea…” Kate states. She believes participation is never frowned upon. Asking questions and learning is what internships are all about. It shows a passion for the work that is being done.

So the question still remains: Does college really train students for what companies expect from them? In my opinion from hearing two separate stories about the issue, I am siding with “no”. It is unfortunate that most of our college knowledge will come from textbooks, and not from word of mouth. My personal advice for those who are about to graduate into the real world is to not be afraid to ask questions. Ask your teacher, boss, older family member, etc. and, try and gain as much knowledge as possible. Knowledge is key to success and success is key to a bright future.

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Have a little faith

At the start of human life, parents hope nothing but the best for their children. There is hope for them to find love, become their own person, and even make something of themselves. But what is a scary thought in a young adult’s mind is ‘what is my path’? For years I have been struggling with this, asking questions, making mistakes and doing things out of the ordinary. 

What I have found throughout my journey into my 20’s, is that change has saved my life. Being alone with no one you have ever seen before can put you in the position of fear; but fear is what makes us face ourselves. It is important to not only know yourself, but what you are capable of. In my case, this is only the beginning. 

Explore the world that is out there, big or small. Chances are, you will run into someone that made the same journey as you. The world is your own to take and to make it count.