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Posts from the ‘The Millennial Journey’ Category

The Millennial Journey: How to Mitigate Buyer’s Remorse in Education

By Gorick Ng, MBA Student, Harvard Business School

According to a recent Gallup poll, 51% of U.S. adults would change at least one of their education decisions (degree, institution, and/or field of study) if they had a chance to re-do their post-secondary degrees.[1] With 44 million Americans[2] each sitting on an average of $37,172 in student loans,[3] we should expect less buyer’s remorse, no?

We should. And we can.

Although a number of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors underpin the current higher ed crisis, I’d like to highlight an often overlooked element: our lack of foresight as students.

Our “conveyor belt” education system has always fed us the next step: do well in kindergarten and first grade will be waiting. Do well in middle school and high school will be there. Do well in high school and college becomes the next step.

Along the way, the default strategy is often to look to John on our left and choose the same school, look to Jenny on our right and choose the same major, and look to our parents and take a similar path. In a constant attempt to keep our heads above water in the face of midterms, homework, essays, jobs, activities, peer pressure, and family obligations we feel there’s no time to reflect on what are doing, why we’re doing these things, and how this all shapes the person we aspire to become. Since this “conveyor belt” kept moving anyways, we were largely sheltered from the consequences of our actions – and inaction.

But what happens towards the end of this “conveyor belt”?

Some students rush to their campus career centers in search of guidance, sometimes days before commencement. Others look to graduate school not as a career enhancing opportunity, but rather an extension of their runway. It is no surprise that buyer’s remorse is so prevalent in higher education.

How do we address this issue? Start from within.

Treat every new experience as a hypothesis test.

TickConsider life as a scatterplot: Speaking with someone (or not)? Taking a course (or not)? Taking care of a loved one (or not)? Getting a job (or not)? Working on a project (or not)? Doing an internship (or not)? Joining a club (or not)? Volunteering with an organization (or not)?

Each experience accumulated (or foregone) is another observation on this scatterplot – and another opportunity to introspect:

  1. What attracted me to (or repelled me from) this?
  2. What did I enjoy / find to be a chore? Why?
  3. What was I good at / not good at? Why?
  4. How much do I like / respect the people? Why?
  5. To what extent can I live a comfortable, fulfilling life doing this? Why?

Imagine our desired future selves as the invisible regression line. If we have just two dots, it can be tempting to draw a straight line and yell “Eureka! I should become a [whatever]!”

But the more dots we can collect, the better our ability is to identify the sweet spot at the intersection of what we are good at, what we are passionate about, and what pays the bills.

This model is not perfect, but with it we can better leverage what we know about ourselves at the time to make more informed decisions about what school to attend, what field of study to pursue, which degree to obtain, and what job to take out of school. Though it takes time, effort, and serious introspection, our future selves will thank us.

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/211529/half-adults-change-least-one-education-decision.aspx

[2] https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/xls/sl_update_2016.xlsx

[3] https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/05/02/student-debt-is-about-to-set-another-record-but-the-picture-isnt-all-bad/

Gorick Ng helps Millennials more successfully transition from school to the workplace. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

The Millennial Journey: College internships are hardly optional.

By Gorick Ng

I applied for my first job at the age of 12 to support my family. I applied to housekeeping jobs, burger flipping jobs, grocery bagging jobs, and clerical jobs – and tried (poorly, in retrospect) to obfuscate my age and lack of work experience with sized-13 font and overly generous spacing for the “References Available upon Request” section in my resume. While I was all-around unsuccessful in securing a job using the resume I frankensteined together (and, instead, resorted to mowing lawns), little did I know that that experience would help me build a decade-long head start in the art of resume writing and resume building.

Ten years later, as I was writing what seemed like the hundredth iteration of my resume and cover letter in search of a full-time job after college, the edge I had built up became increasingly apparent: after having interned or worked with over two-dozen organizations from middle school through college, I was not only armed with a resume filled with work experiences, but I was also ready to pounce on any question interviewers could throw my way.

Meanwhile, to this day I see resumes from brilliant college seniors filled with demanding courses, but little substance in their experience section articulating their leadership and problem solving skills. Worse, the useless “References Available upon Request” section is somehow still present in all too many resumes I come across.

Reality struck: if you want an edge in the post-college job search, start resume-building in college.

Indeed, of the attributes that employers look for in job applicants, internships and employment ranked the highest, while college GPA and college reputation ranked the lowest.[1] With nearly 60% of graduating seniors having held at least one internship, [2] not having any work experience effectively puts you in the bottom half of the application pile – a place you do not want to find yourself.

Importance of Attributes in Evaluating Graduates for Hire

Unfortunately, such guidance too often falls on deaf freshman ears despite college career offices’ repeated attempts. Of the dozens of career counselors I have spoken to, too often do they see seniors floundering just days before commencement. One college career center I interviewed even sets up a booth adjacent to the commencement lawn.

So what’s to be done?

The message has to get out – and from as many trusted sources as possible: internships are hardly optional.

Just as Millennials find online user-generated content (messaging from peers rather than authorities) 50% more trustworthy than other (traditional) media,[3] the college career center should be but one of many bearers of this message: the message also has to come from alums, parents, mentors, and peers not in the form of a formal workshop, but rather as an insider tip on “what I wish I had known.”

Work experience matters – and having it on your resume is just as, if not even more important than good grades. Pass it on.

[1] https://chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/Employers%20Survey.pdf

[2] http://www.naceweb.org/2012-student-survey.aspx (links to 2016 report)

[3] http://corp.crowdtap.com/socialinfluence

Gorick Ng helps companies work more productively with Millennials. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist in the transition from school to work.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

 

 

The Millennial Journey: We Need to Help Students Think Long-Term

Should students pick majors based on employability?

US colleges educate over 20.5 million students each year,[1] of which 75-85% will change their majors at least once.[2] The choice of major is no easy feat: for most students this will be the first consequential decision of their lives, second only to their choice of college. It is for good reason: from a future earnings perspective, picking one college major over another can yield a lifetime earnings differential of up to $3.4 million.[3]

Read more

Introducing “The Millennial Journey”

By Gorick Ng, MBA Student, Harvard Business School

EACE is pleased to introduce “The Millennial Journey”, a monthly segment featuring the research of Gorick Ng, a Harvard Business School MBA who specializes in the transition from school to work. Over the past year Gorick has interviewed ~200 employers, students, and career counselors to understand the pain points – and opportunities – in today’s hyper-competitive economy.

Each month we will feature a new step in “The Millennial Journey”, each with a thought-provoking headline question for our community to consider.

We will begin with a Millennial’s first steps on a college campus – all the way through to when a Millennial enters their first job out of school. Our goal is not to “average” our students down to a size that fits no one; it is to share the cross-cutting emotions and pain points observed through hundreds of conversations with Millennials from all walks of life.

This monthly segment is meant for career counselors, employers, parents, and students alike. We hope there will be something for everyone.

Let’s have a substantive conversation!

About the Author:  Gorick Ng helps companies develop tactical skills training to accelerate the learning curve of new hires. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist in the transition from school to work.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

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