Career Students

The Biggest Difficulties Recent Graduates Face Entering the Workforce

“I’m exhausted, lost, and worried.” These are just a few of the ways graduate describe their transition from college to the workplace. Despite being told to “hit the ground running,” many of the young people feel puzzled, confused, unsatisfied, and, in some cases, overwhelmed by the “real world.”

This rigorous and stressful experience impacts organizations, which invest time and money recruiting and training young people to join their ranks and instantly contribute to the company, in addition to the young people themselves and their well-being.

The fundamental reason why young people suffer is cultural, not generational. Particularly noteworthy, but often overlooked, is the cultural transfer from college to the working world. This cultural transition occurs on at least three levels:

Feedback, Connections, and Responsibility:

Feedback in college is clear and constant. You have a syllabus, which outlines the semester’s obligations as well as the criteria by which you’ll be judged. After that, your professor provides comments on each work you submit. You don’t have to ask for feedback; it’ll come to you without prompting, and usually without much personal explanation.

Furthermore, because grades are standardized, it’s simple to compare your performance to that of others or to that of oneself in past classes or semesters.

As you may expect, once a student joins the professional sector, the feedback paradigm transforms completely. For starters, feedback in employment is typically less constant and difficult to interpret than it is in education. Depending on your management and company, you may receive highly clear, thorough, and consistent feedback on assignments; or you may receive feedback in a sporadic and difficult-to-understand manner, through a short comment here and there until that rare official performance evaluation.

However, in any case, the feedback you receive is frequently qualitative rather than quantitative, which can be perplexing for students who are focused on their grades and where they fit on the general class curve.
Young professionals may suffer a feedback vacuum in the workplace as a result of these cultural differences, wondering how to improve, if they need to improve, and how to enhance their talents.

Recent grads must also acquire a new skill in the workplace: how to receive both good and negative feedback in a calm, professional manner, which is not a regular part of the academic paradigm.


Professional relationships are also considerably different from those in college. You form relationships with individuals you want to be friends with at college, and for the most part, with people your age. Relationships develop spontaneously as a result of classroom encounters, extracurricular activities on campus, and friends of friends. And there’s usually minimal pressure to maintain connections you don’t care for.

When students join the professional world, however, they are immersed in a different type of relationship-building experience. It’s no longer just about forming a group of enjoyable, wonderful individuals to hang out with; it’s also about being strategic. In a professional setting, cultivating relationships is about forming friendships, but it’s also about forming a strong network of colleagues who can help you succeed at your job and grow in your career. This entails connecting with people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests daily. It also entails forging a bond with your supervisor, a new authority figure who not only tells you what to do but also wields significant influence over your future career path.

Relationship development may also take place in the working sphere with people you don’t like or want to be friends with. Unlike in college, where you can easily avoid individuals, you don’t like — such as professors whose lectures you may opt-out of — this is not the case in the working world. You must learn to manage tough relationships professionally and effectively.

Finally, how you treat a professor in one class has little to no bearing on your performance, reputation, or experience in another class or department. However, contacts with your employer at work may have a significant impact on your present company’s performance. It may be tough for you to advance up the corporate ladder if your supervisor complains to other leaders about your performance or work ethic.


The entire purpose of college, at least in terms of studying, is to expand your knowledge base and critical thinking abilities. You are mostly responsible for yourself at school. Yes, you are on project teams from time to time, or you may work on a project with a partner. But, while the group’s performance is important, the ultimate duty lies with you, your achievement, success, and learning.
In a professional setting, on the other hand, there is usually a lot more on the line, and mistakes can have serious implications. You are responsible not only to yourself, but also to your team, your co-workers, your supervisor, your division, and your organization. You can’t make it up or seek additional credit if you miss a critical task, harm a customer relationship, or mismanage a supplier engagement.
Mistakes aren’t always or only learning opportunities; they may have major ramifications for your reputation and career, putting a young professional under a whole new level of stress and personal responsibility.
These three themes demonstrate that, while some young professionals move well from college to the job, others have significant challenges. So, what can firms and managers do to assist new professionals in making the cultural transition?

Our recommendations:

Treat this shift like you would any other big cultural adjustment, and apply the best cultural adaptation strategies to the transfer from college to the workplace. This entails explaining the norms and conventions, as well as how and why these rules and expectations differ from those in college.
Finally, young professionals must be willing to put in the time and effort required to manage the transition from education to work if they are to succeed. This may entail reaching out to more experienced friends or family members to discover how they handled their change. It might also include identifying whatever soft skills they lack and devising a strategy to enhance them.

John Xavier


BLEND Gobal Learning and Development for people and enterprise transformation skills. Our panel with its global experience in crafting training programs focus on value and growth for our clients.

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