From graduate to employee - a difficult transition

Darren Campion on his experience entering the world of work after 18 years in the education system

This week I found myself sifting mindlessly through the vapid nonsense that saturates my social media feeds. Like the majority of my generation I am easily consumed by the content(bile) projected onto these platforms by my peers. A particular theme which struck me on this occasion was “Graduation” a landmark event in someone’s life celebrated by family and friends alike.

It brought me back to my own graduation 12 months previously. It’s a mixed a bag of emotions one experiences on that day. Relief, joy and vindication are all positive associations, however, there is also a niggling feeling submerged in the depths of your mind, there is doubt, fear, you find yourself asking is that it? What happens now?

I’ve never been someone who thinks too far ahead, this trait brought me to the a few obscure regions of the US for the summer to avoid making a decision with regards to my future path. So, the predominant feeling gripping me on this day (graduation) was anti-climax.

The prospect of manoeuvring through the minefield of graduate programmes and entry level opportunities did not appeal, but it had to be done, at least I thought it did. I put myself under pressure to get a job, I was fresh out of college it was the so -called natural progression, a social norm.


I applied for everything that reflected even the slightest bit of relevance to my qualification. Subsequently, I received a call back within a few days, solid interview, offered a position, signed the contract. I had a job.

I had invested so much time and energy into actually obtaining a graduate job that I didn’t stop to think or even consider was this really what I wanted? The position I had accepted was in a sector I didn’t have any particular interest, nor did it have much in common with my course of study.

Despite this I persevered, I moved to Dublin and summoned as much enthusiasm as humanely possible, it was quickly sapped from me.

I am 23 years-old and have been in a structured education system since I was 5, that’s 18 years in the system.

As a graduate with the Irish education system embedded into my style of learning since the age of five, I have been accustomed to structured education.

The role I was being trained for consisted of a learning curve that required about six months of training to obtain an appropriate knowledge in order to be considered fully competent for the job.

Throughout my time in the role there was a lot jumping back and forward between different processes and concepts without any sense of structure or cohesion.

On top of this I was greeted with a manager/team leader who specialised in the art of being condescending.

Personally, I do not subscribe to the type of learning that forces someone to “get there themselves”.

What I mean by this is when I’ve been asked a question, where I’m not sure what the answer is, quite often the response has been “oh you should know this by now”.

Also, when I have asked questions myself I have been confronted with the response “you tell me” these two kinds of response have not been one bit helpful, to be quite honest I have found them  incredibly frustrating, they have made me feel somewhat foolish and discouraged me from asking further questions and being inquisitive, in essence there is a fear of being criticised for asking a question.

I found myself so demoralised that I started to keep a diary of when I was criticised or felt I was being put down.

Some classic entries include being aggressively given out to for using a kettle instead of the hot water filtration system and being blamed for a glitch in the software which as it later transpired was a caused by an installation within the programme itself.

After 8 months I finally caved, I didn’t want to stay and management didn’t want to keep me on.

On reflection, it was a character building experience and if truth be told I’ve come out the other side better equipped in terms dealing with people I have absolutely nothing in common with.

My experience isn’t dissimilar from other graduates/millennials. A report published by Gallup last year revealed that millennials only tend to stay in a job for about 8 months and that 60 per cent are open to switching occupations at any given time, hence we are known as the job-hopping generation.

The report also shows that only 29 per cent of millennials feel engaged with their work, in other words only 3 in 10 are emotionally and behaviourally connected. Another survey report published in Ireland this year stated that 64 per cent of Irish millennials said a poor working relationship with their boss would cause them to leave.

Is there a generational gap where managers in the modern workforce are subject to ‘groupthink’ and are out of touch with today’s world and the upcoming workforce? Or are my generation too soft and expect the world to be handed to them?

I can’t say, it’s not black and white and such is the reality of most conflicts the answer lies somewhere in the middle ‘no man’s land’.

That being said, millennials are the bedrock of today’s workforce and will be the influencers and decision makers for future generations so something has to give.

By the time I’m ready to retire retirement age is likely to be 75, we’ll be around for quite some time yet.

Fast forward to today and I’m in a position where I am both happy and feeling challenged, I feel both vindicated and fortunate.

There is uncertainty when you finish college, you may have to wander in the dark for a while going through tedious spells of trial and error with different positions, having to interact with people you dislike on a daily basis, whether it’s negative or positive make sure you learn from it.