Posted April 04, 2014 by

5 Key Challenges Today’s Graduates Encounter

Group of diverse students celebrating graduation

Group of diverse students celebrating graduation. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

At times, life unfolds in clearly defined chapters, each defined by the things we are preoccupied with during these individual life stages.  College, for example, is a relatively carefree time, bridging the gap between childhood abandon and the real-life concerns facing graduates after they leave school.  While it is a time to grow up, college years are also set-aside for living out youthful dreams and enjoying the transition to adulthood.  As a result, graduates face several wake-up calls as they move from campus life into mainstream employment following school.

Careers and employment scenarios are challenging in their own right, but recent college graduates face unique obstacles as they prepare to make their marks in mainstream employment roles.  A highly competitive employment environment and a generally shake-up in many job sectors makes the current post-recession hiring landscape particularly challenging to navigate.  Today’s graduates encounter these hurdles:

Lack of Opportunity – The American dream is based on opportunity and the willingness of the United States citizenry to embrace it when it knocks.  Recent college graduates are stuck by low levels of opportunity within the job market.  Recession conditions led companies to restructure and things are just beginning to normalize after many employers instituted formal hiring freezes.  While the future looks brighter than the recent past, corrections have not been fully realized to this point.

For graduates, lack of opportunity does not justify unemployment, so they must commit to overcoming adversity in one of two ways. Graduates facing limited opportunity can create it themselves, using entrepreneurial strategies, or they can learn new skills that lead to greater hiring opportunities.

Negative Perception – Young people entering the job market are often faced with negative perceptions from employers, who associate an entire generation of workers with the misdeeds of a few of their contemporaries.  Dispelling negative notions can be difficult for entry-level job seekers, because they do not have extensive work histories to illuminate their strong work ethics and commitments to past employers.

Lack of experience can be a deal breaker for employers, so it is up to graduates to set themselves apart by getting involved in the industries they strive to work in. Internships, apprenticeships and volunteering to assist mentors are each good ways to build positive resume entries.

Gaining Paid Experience – Transitioning from college to adult work roles actually exposes recent graduates to more demanding financial obligations than they faced during school.  For starters, student loan repayment kicks-in, challenging graduates to keep pace with debt responsibilities.  And living arrangements change too, adding additional cost-of-living expenses to graduates’ monthly budgets.  Where parental support and stipends for living expenses bridged the financial gaps present during college, many students find the financial weight of independent living burdensome; especially when greeted by a job market that is not rich with paid internships.  Lack of experience perpetuates itself, when students are unable to land paid work in their fields of study.  As a result, some students find success by building an adjustment period into their career progression, to account for its lean early years.

Building Credit – Young people are at a disadvantage as they strive to establish credit references following school.  Steady student loan repayment and responsible credit card management are essential for building solid credit scores, but students also contribute to positive credit histories by effectively managing installment debt, like auto loans.

When credit problems loom, recent college graduates avoid catastrophic consequences by restructuring student loan payments and other debt obligations, rather than defaulting. And using co-signers to secure personal loans is also effective for graduates building credit, enabling them to piggy-back their own credit performance with an established family member’s positive history.

Social Adjustments – College socializing is facilitated by hundreds of thousands of contemporaries gathering on campuses daily, at countless schools across the country.  While they say college friends are among life’s most lasting, recent graduates face social adjustments as they transition from college to mainstream jobs.  For those who “blossomed” during college, carrying newfound self-confidence into adult employment roles can be difficult.  Leaning on family and new relationships established in the workplace helps many students overcome their dependence on campus lifestyles.

While employment concerns are front-and-center for most recent graduates, entry-level job-seekers also experience obstacles adjusting to life after college.  For most, patience and perseverance are enough to bridge the gap between college life and post-graduation success.

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This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for background checks. She welcomes your comments at her email id:

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