Graduates face new work environment

Friday, October 22, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 43

It’s hard to overstate how happy I’ve been that our workforce is more remote now than ever before. Working from home opens options for many people. People are no longer confined to the job market in their town. They can live anywhere. And, they don’t have to commute or go into an open office.

People will argue that working from home just isn’t the same from a culture perspective. I would argue right back that culture can be created in new ways. Yes, it’s different. And, yes, it takes time. But it is possible. Teams can bond through the virtual world.

But, there’s one detail to consider: Since the pandemic started, two spring college graduations have taken place. This means that there are two full classes of college graduates out there who started their careers after working from home became the norm.

Sure, some students were doing internships during college. They might have been going into an office. But many college students never get the opportunity to do a single internship. They were still working in food service or another similar industry.

These newly minted graduates are being tossed into a world of Zoom, many working from their parents’ homes.

We need to consider the long-term implications of this unique phenomenon. Also, it reinforces the idea that things aren’t going to go back to the pre-pandemic normal. This really is the new normal. There are college graduates who can’t imagine how things might be different in person.

So, what does this mean for you and your business? The right answer is unclear, but we certainly need to consciously make team-building a priority. We need to try to be better communicators. We need to create structure. And, we need to make an effort to train employees.

I’m a big supporter of teaching yourself. But, in an office, it’s easier to do when you can look around at what co-workers are doing. These new graduates don’t have that luxury. They’re walking straight out of college and into their dining room table, trying to piece together what it means to be a full-time employee.

Today’s workers were never really loyal to one company. Imagine if you never met the people you were working with. Imagine how lonely and confusing it might be to work solo from the beginning. College often doesn’t even train students on basics like balancing a checkbook. How do we expect new graduates to come ready to know what they’re doing on Day One?

My takeaway for you is this: If you are working with a recent college grad, take the time to get to know them. Ask them if they need help. And, try to mentor them if you have the chance.

They are our future, after all.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at