The Department of Education predicts that nearly 2 million students will receive bachelor degrees this year. If recent trends continue, about 60 percent of them will have a full-time job within six months of hearing “Pomp and Circumstance.”
But even those with a job offer and a start date may be feeling anxious. In Counseling Today, Adriana Cornell writes that, for many recent grads, this anxiety comes from feeling unprepared to face careers and a life outside of school.
Let me put those fears to rest. College graduates already have several key skills needed for success.
The first skill is cultivating a positive attitude. Brian Tracy at Fast Company describes what is obvious to professors and employers alike: Graduates who enter the work world with the same feelings of excitement and curiosity that they had when they first walked on campus as freshmen are more likely to set themselves up for early success. A positive attitude can contribute to making more and being promoted faster.
Secondly, recent graduates have also already proven that they know how to learn.
While in school, they used focus and preparation to master new concepts. The same skills apply in the work world. Even though employers are not handing out learning objectives and class syllabi on Day One, they are consistently providing new hires material that must be digested and understood.
In other words, work provides a great opportunity for experiential learning. To make sense of it, new hires must learn from their own experiences, observations and reflections.
Finally, all those years of schooling have given recent grads a secret weapon ― notetaking.
Notetaking in general can be a helpful tool that enhances learning, documents key events, and helps people retain key information.
That’s why I encourage my graduating seniors to stop by the college bookstore one last time and buy themselves a notebook and pen. (A keyboard is not as good a tool for taking notes, some psychologists have found.)
As a symbol, a notebook and pen remind graduates that even after the caps and gowns are put away, learning continues.
As a practical tool, a notebook and pen allow them to keep track of all they’re taking in and add structure to their day-to-day professional lives. Just as they did in school, new hires must take notes to capture, record, and review key facts.
For example, on a daily basis new hires might ask themselves: What new person (in or out of my organization) did I meet today?
Which new questions about my job/organization/industry/ have come up today, and how might I be able to answer them?
What new bit of information do I have at the end of the day that I did not have when I arrived this morning?
What did I learn today?
What tasks did I complete today, and did I meet my boss’s expectations?
At the end of every week, new hires can use these notes to conduct a meaningful self-appraisal. Over time, this process can help them identify successes, find opportunities to improve, and develop performance goals.
These new metrics are the basis for their workplace evaluations. The academic success that was previously measured by grades and awards is now acknowledged in the form of promotions and raises.
Returning to the basics provides graduates the tools to unlock their potential. Plus, a notebook is a lot cheaper than a new car, and yet it will take them further.