College Grads: Professional Enough to Survive the Workforce?

By now you’re undoubtedly aware of how competitive the job market is for recent graduates. Gen Y is fighting tooth and nail for a seat at the table – and doing everything they can to impress hiring managers.

As new entrants to the workforce, us graduates are given endless advice on how to speak, what to wear (or not wear), what to bring to interviews, what to ask … the list goes on and on. When it comes to what happens when we do get the job, however, apparently many of us fall quite short on guidance here.

I was shocked when I read the recent 2012 Professionalism in the Workplace Study, which surveyed HR professionals, upper class graduates, managers and supervisors regarding professionalism in the United States workforce.

The results regarding Gen Y… were not pretty.

As members of the Millennial generation, we have some serious conflicts with our older professional counterparts. For example:

  • 83% of new Gen Y hires were categorized as excessively utilizing social media at work
  • 82% of us text at inappropriate times during the workday

In high school, we had to leave cell phones in our lockers or they would be taken away. When I was in college, professors had all kinds of clever punishments for students caught texting –tennis balls were thrown and embarrassing text messages were read out loud; the worst offenders were kicked out of class, altogether.

Prior to our joining the workforce, clearly these institutions and our mentors have attempted to instill in us the understanding that there are appropriate (and inappropriate) times to use our personal online accounts and handheld devices. From our experience in the classroom, we know that excessive texting is most often considered unacceptable.

So why does that knowledge seem to fly out the window when we have a new job?

No wonder 92% of HR executives believe that higher education should develop professionalism in students, regardless of their field of study.

As young professionals, we are expected to be just that: professional. Just because we’re the “connected generation” doesn’t mean the rules change for us!

And yet, 8 to 9 out of 10 of us are failing in this critical area.

Millennials: Want to help end the negative stereotypes about Gen Y and our personal use of technology? Want to reverse the trend that shows we suck when it comes to self-disciplined use of our smartphones and social media?

Here’s some advice from a fellow Millennial: Stop being a damn stereotype!




About the Author: Erica Roberts graduated from Oregon State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Marketing. She is an avid reader and writer, and is extremely passionate about social media. Erica currently works as a social media consultant for several clients, and has a social media internship with YouTern. Connect with Erica on LinkedIn and Twitter.




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