Entering the Workforce - From Cap & Gown to Suit & Tie

Each year, the month of May is filled with pomp and circumstance, diplomas and the tossing of caps in the air as college graduates celebrate their achievements. Now, it’s time for many of those graduates to make the potentially daunting transition to the workplace.

Some may be feeling well-prepared by the guidance they have received from teachers and family members over the years. Others may be feeling lost and uncertain as reality sets in. Here are some tangible steps that new graduates can take as they get ready for this big change – and a bonus tip for parents, too.

  1. Leverage university resources
    Career centers are a college resource that should not be overlooked. They can help you build a standout resume and prepare for job interviews with mock sessions. They host career fairs that give you the opportunity to have conversations with people from many companies across a host of industries. Students can usually obtain a list of employers that will be represented at these fairs and use that list to prepare questions accordingly. Exploring the possibilities could help you discover what your career path might be. As a student, these helpful services are covered by tuition. However, once you enter the “real world,” these services will typically be an out-of-pocket expense.
  2. Sharpen skills
    There are certain skills and attributes that employers are looking for in new hires. For a generation that’s growing up communicating through text messages and limited characters on social media, it’s important that verbal and written skills are sharpened to meet professional standards. A firm handshake, confident eye contact and a clear tone of voice will always be an asset. Other “soft skills” that may be critical are empathy and the ability to self-direct. The technical skills that employers are seeking will vary by industry and role, but some common ones include strong analytical skills and advanced digital capabilities.
  3. Start networking
    It’s never too early to start networking! The idea of networking might seem intimidating, especially for those who are introverted, but it can help to think of it simply as making new relationships. People like to help other people, especially when there is a common thread between the two. For current students or new graduates, the easiest place to start is your college’s alumni network. Find individuals who work in your space, and don’t shy away from asking questions. Remember, they were once in your shoes and looking for a helpful sounding board as well. Other potential avenues for networking include those related to your employment background. Maybe you worked part-time during the academic year, held a summer job or had a work placement for school. Think about those valuable experiences and any former managers, colleagues or mentors you can approach. Over time, the art of networking becomes more natural, and you will be the one whose advice is being sought!
  4. Let kids find their lane
    It’s common for parents to influence their children’s career choices, especially when there is a family history of working in a particular profession. However, if children are not permitted to find their own lane, there is a risk that they will not be as happy – or as successful – as we would like. Our tip for moms and dads is to provide children with appropriate mentorship and guidance but give them the latitude to make their own career decisions. Times have changed, and career choices that may seem baffling to parents today could very well be a wave of the future.
  5. Know that change is possible
    Once upon a time, it was common for employees to stay with the same company for their entire career, retire with that company and collect a pension in retirement. That narrative has changed, and it’s now normal for people to hold several jobs during their working years. If your first foray into working life doesn’t pan out, make a note of what you liked and disliked about your experience and use that information to search for what’s next. It’s likely you’ll be working for decades, so it’s worth making strategic changes that can get you closer to where you want to be. Embrace the journey and learn from every experience—whether positive or negative.


Michael Pappachristou, CFP

Michael Pappachristou, CFP

Wealth Advisor

Mike is Wealth Advisor at our Morristown, NJ, office. He is responsible for building client relationships, analyzing their financial pictures and providing recommendations to help them achieve their financial and legacy planning goals. He joined legacy firm RegentAtlantic in 2016 and was a member of the firm’s Financial Planning Committee, providing thought leadership across a range of financial planning topics. Mike appreciates working with families across multiple generations and keeping their goals and values in mind at all times.


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