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Graduated… and now what?

Blog by Nick Hoogendoorn, Vice Director at ORMIT

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By: Nick Hoogendoorn
Vice Director at ORMIT
Date: 24 July 2015

We meet many students

We meet many students; students with a good resume and a lot of ambition who cannot wait to get on the labour market. However a lot of those talented people often have no idea what they really want regarding work, and when they think they do, their idea has often been built on a foundation of straw.

The “still-no-idea” thing

This “still-no-idea”-thing makes many students insecure. When you are interviewed by a recruiter, this is exactly what he wants to hear: a well-grounded motivation on why you are the perfect candidate for the job. There, I don’t even mention yet the mandatory question about where are you going to be 5 years from now. In short, a stressful choice. But, acknowledging that you don’t fully know yet, shows your personal leadership, doesn’t it? How could you know actually?

Students have focused on getting their degree (which they also have to do at a brisk pace) and on extracurricular activities. Time that is left over is obviously not dedicated to orientation on the labour market. The whole educational system is targeted on collecting knowledge and challenging students’ cognition as much as possible. In my opinion, we still pay insufficient attention to the labour market perspectives related to the skills, competences and centres of interest a person has. Too often, students choose their orientation because they already know the field they register into, or because their friends have registered there, or because it just sounds nice… Fortunately, more and more universities see the importance of paying more attention to the career prospects, but this is far from being widely implemented. As a consequence, many highly educated talented people leave university with a good diploma, wondering: “And now what?”

Starting a career is like playing roulette

This rather important question would require to be taken seriously and to be answered, even if it is not a matter of life and death. Experience shows often different. The average graduate usually starts to apply for jobs orientating themselves to limited and superficial opportunities on the labour market. Often, they focus only on companies which they know as consumers, or on companies renowned as “hot”; choices are often socially suitable. Usually, they start applying without even knowing the internal structure of those companies. Here, I am only talking about the name of the company they apply for. Imagine if we have to consider the type of work and the function as well. All this makes starting a career look more like playing roulette than a well-considered and intrinsically motivated process.

It’s a pity because a lot of talent gets lost there. Indeed, talent can only really grow when it develops in the right environment. Unfortunately, people realise this only years after they started their career, and this awareness comes with consequences.

Insight in the right career

Then again, the image outlined above is nothing new. Twenty years ago, the problem was the same and that is why ORMIT was created. Back then, companies were already noticing that many students were starting to work for them without really knowing what they were beginning with. This results in a high turnover at the beginning of careers. It is a shame for the employer who has been investing in employment, in guiding and training these talents, an investment that flows out when people leave the company too quickly. For the persons in question, it is even more annoying, because they want a flying start and not having to come to the conclusion after 2 or 3 years that it was actually a false start. Of course, realising that the job wasn’t right is a valuable insight, but still not the insight of what the job should be. The ORMIT concept aims to precisely provide that insight. We see everyday how important it is for the talented people to choose the right career path. We notice the same when we talk with our Alumni, who are still experiencing the value of a firm foundation of a career. Something our participants can also benefit from, everyday. Moreover, the right match between function and skills provides maximum efficiency and a sustainable relationship, which can both lead to, for example, more enthusiasm and commitment, less long-term sick leave and lower turnover. In short, investing in discovering where your personal career path lies offers a lot to all parties!