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Ready or Not?

I’ve begun to notice how often I delete OCR event and resume workshop emails, and I can’t help but wonder whether this is a good decision. Am I as ready to find a job and have a career as I think I am, or will I trip over my shoelaces and fall flat on my face the first moment I step into the post-grad world?

In a study released by Chegg Textbook Company, surveys of college students and employers show a great divide in how prepared they believe college graduates are in terms of employment readiness. Not surprisingly, we tend to overestimate our own skills, while hiring managers have estimated our readiness as significantly lower in several categories: general readiness, organization, communication ability, prioritizing ability, time management, and many other specific aspects of any job.

There’s been lots of debate about whether a college education today adequately prepares students for the world outside of the protection of University City (and the Penn Police bike patrols), and both sides have valid points that apply to our educational experiences today.

To our benefit, our addiction to social media sites and personal blogs has given us significant experience with technology that our superiors in the workplace won’t have. This makes us an asset to many companies. We will be able to think of solutions to problems in a new way, and we will be able to understand and use technology much more efficiently than our elders. However, critics argue that technology can always be learned on the job. What can’t be learned are the instincts required to succeed in any career field. Our education is so tailored to fit and convenience us, many say, that we have not been allowed to develop the street smarts and self-guidance necessary to contribute effectively to our jobs. Even worse, some employers doubt that we have enough respect for customary social practices related to employment, including the ability to maintain proper employer-employee and client-employee relations.

Here’s my take on the issue: I think that there certainly is truth to the fact that we live within our campus bubble, which isn’t representative of real life. There will never be an acceptable excuse for us to stumble into work late, wearing last night’s sweats (and possibly last night’s makeup). We won’t be able to skirt through classes with minimal attendance so long as we do well on exams—there are no exams in the workplace. We’ll be judged on our consistency, not on our ability to cram. But I think that our generation has a flexibility that older generations can’t yet see. We are able to adjust and mold ourselves to novel situations. For example, consider the transition from high school to college. I personally had never taken myself anywhere in high school except maybe to the mall and school. Now, I arrange all of my own travel plans inside and outside of Philadelphia. We have our own apartments, manage schoolwork with socialization, and we live our own lives now. I think our flexibility will be a great asset when we leave this phase and enter the dramatically different world of employment. There may be a learning curve, but at least we’ve finely honed our happy-hour-slash-couch-time-with-Netflix-and-ice-cream-skills to cope with any stress over our four years at Penn. That’s an indispensible skill we’ll use for the rest of our lives.  

Image credits: http://weknowmemes.com/2011/10/oh-get-a-job-just-get-a-job/

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