College grads unprepared for workforce

Many college graduates aren’t prepared for the workforce, concludes a York College study. So the Pennsylvania school is trying to teach professionalism as well as liberal arts, reports NPR.

Business leaders and human resources managers told researchers what qualities they look for in new college graduates.

Those qualities include the ability to communicate and listen respectfully, motivation to finish a task and attention to appearance.

But (York Professor David) Polk says researchers did find one area where recent graduates stand out:

“There’s a sense of entitlement that we’ve picked up on. Where people think they’re entitled to become, let’s say president of the company, within the next two years. They’re entitled to five weeks of vacation.”

After hearing a talk on professionalism, senior Evan Smrek tells NPR he’s learned not to start an interview by asking how many weeks of vacation the job includes.

Half of college degrees are useless, writes Flypaper’s Mickey Muldoon, citing a New York Times’ story on a slight improvement in job prospects for new grads: “51 percent of college graduates under age 25 [are] working in jobs that require college educations, down from 59 percent in 2000.”

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  1. Homeschooling Granny says:

    One good place to learn “the ability to communicate and listen respectfully, motivation to finish a task, and attention to appearance” – attributes of professionalism – is a fast food restaurant. Many years ago Nat Hentoff wrote that working in a burger joint teaches one to show up on time when one would rather not, stay when one would rather leave, do jobs one would rather not, and be polite to people when one would rather not. Many very successful people have burger flipping in their background. It may also have persuaded them to work hard enough at their education to earn the opportunity to do something else.

    I took Hentoff’s advice and made sure my teenage children worked either for fast food or doing scut work as day laborers. It was good advice.

  2. Walter_E_Wallis says:

    A standing joke –
    “O.K., sonny, first thing, sweep and mop up.”
    “Sir, you seem to have forgotten, I’m a college graduate!”
    “Sorry, I did forget. I’ll show you how.”

  3. Are they really teaching professionalism, or rather how to simulate professionalism in an interview?

  4. Most of the college grads were unprepared for college when they arrived at college. College didn’t do much to help that.

  5. I think everyone should have the experience of working at two types of jobs–selling on commission and a service job.

    When your paycheck is dependent upon selling something, you get really motivated. Service jobs are similiar, especially if you get tips, but learning how to really anticipate someone’s needs and to take care of those needs is a great learning experience.

  6. Bill Leonard says:

    KateC, I agree but would expand the parameters to most any job that at some point involves manual labor and/or is boring and repetive, or requires working at the machine’s pace. During college, my full-time summer job experience included a couple seasons loading trucks and railcars in a cannery (food processing plant.) Huge bucks at the time, but hard manual labor, 48 hours/week, straight time.

    Starting in their later teenage years, we required both our sons to earn their own spending money and car insurance fees. After a week in a garage door factory, our older son was convinced a college education had to be in his future. The work was physically hard, but also incredibly boring. It also was instructive for him to look around and notice that most of the regular employees in the plant (i.e., those who weren’t college kids making summer money) were men in their 30s and 40s, some high school grads, some not, who were supporting families on such jobs, and whose futures probably included a several more decades of similar work.


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  2. […] study by York College suggests that many graduates are unprepared for the working world. The study cites the expectations […]