The clueless college student heading into the work world

“I like animals.”  Bryn said.  A sweet natured young lady from Branford, CT told me during our first career counseling session.  Bryn’s sentiment made her endearing immediately but that was soon displaced by concern for her.  “I’m not interested in anything related to becoming a vet or a vet tech.” Bryn continued and then systematically ruled out working for any businesses focused on pet-owners, biological research related to animals, and pretty much any other job in the already very small field of working with animals. Then she said: “I’d like to work for Doctors Without Borders.”  That gave me something to work with since although she had no health care experience, the theme of working in international not-for-profits in an area of support was possible.   But as I described the rigor of going to third world countries, Bryn noted that she is more of a home body.  While did not think of herself as spoiled, she liked the comforts of home and grew anxious when traveling.  So maybe Doctors Without Borders wouldn’t work.

I’m an idealist but a pragmatic one. I’m not critical of Bryn’s interests but rather alarmed at how little thought she gave to what she would do with her interests.  I was further alarmed when I asked her what she was thinking as her senior year was passing.  Did she consider what she would do? “Not really. I was just trying to get through school.”

Bryn is 23 and a graduate of a pretty good college. Her story is not particularly unique.  I hear similar versions of “I’m interested in music or movies or [fill in the blank with a hobby]” which is fine if the person has given thought to how they would make their passion pay the bills.  But most have not.

I tell parents who call Career Counseling Connecticut that perhaps our generation was equally clueless.  But we entered the workforce in the 80s and 90s when entry level jobs for college graduates were plentiful.  The world today is not so kind to clueless college grads.  We can help.