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The Covid Class of 2021 Has Unique Strengths and Weaknesses. Employers Should Be Prepared

Because of the pandemic, companies may find their new hires are great at time management. But they also could be unaware of how organizations work.

6/18/2021 12:00:00 PM

Companies hiring recent college graduates may find they have some unique strengths, as well as some developmental gaps, after a more than a year spent studying and working remotely

Because of the pandemic, companies may find their new hires are great at time management. But they also could be unaware of how organizations work.

June 17, 2021 11:41 am ETJennifer Deal is a senior research scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California. She is co-author of “What Millennials Want from Work.”This is the time of year when companies are preparing to onboard a new class of freshly minted graduates from universities around the world. Leaders may find that after more than a year of studying and working remotely, these new hires as a group have very different strengths and developmental needs than the new grads who joined their organizations in years past.

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On the positive side, the pandemic forced many young adults to practice certain skills that employers are likely to find useful.For example, students had to collaborate with geographically dispersed teams to create and deliver work, work in new platforms with little training and form relationships with supervisors (professors and teaching assistants, as well as “work” colleagues) they never met in person. They also were forced to develop self-management skills—or recognize and deal with their lack of them. Students who were used to having guardrails set up around their time had to manage their work without those supports. Those who succeeded gained skills many older employees are still struggling with, such as the discipline to get work done outside of the structure of a classroom or professional work setting. Those who struggled to manage their time effectively learned what guardrails they need to be productive.

At the same time, many young adults missed out on in-person internships and other developmental opportunities that could have helped them learn both how to navigate life in an office and how organizations actually work. For example, students have had less practice in managing the social aspects of office life and navigating the politics. They haven’t had the chance to learn who to ask for help and where to look for information—as well as who and what not to ask. It is difficult to learn how to be part of an organization when you can’t see the subtext of what is happening, when there are no signposts.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal »

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