Open Your Doors, Pick Up Your Phones, Offer Your Time to Graduates

As some of you may know, my son Cory just graduated from Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), and it got me thinking about my own graduation back in 1992: a weak economy, no LinkedIn or professional network, and I was about to get married!

Fortunately, one of my professors suggested Enterprise Rent-A-Car as a great place to start a business career, and I ended up working there for over 5 years!

Fast forward to today, and as a business leader in the human capital industry, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles young professionals face entering today’s tough job market. Despite the rather impressive March BLS jobs figures, recent data tells a worrying story: recent graduates face a 4.8% unemployment rate and a whopping 40.3% underemployment rate.

Think about all these college grads have had to deal with since graduating high school in May 2020 – not having had an actual graduation, a global pandemic, the move from 10% of the workforce working from home to nearly 80% in a matter of days, the January 6th riots, social unrest, global supply chain issues, the rapid rise in inflation and interest rates, the opening up of mental health conversations, the explosion of housing costs, the “Great Resignation”, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Isreal/Hamas war, tech layoffs, and the rise of AI! It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

But don’t despair—WE, as employers and leaders, can do something to help these wide-eyed yet overwhelmed 22-year-olds! Just like my professor did for me.

A simple conversation can be transformative. By making ourselves available for informational interviews, we can offer insights, clarity, and confidence to these recent grads trying to find their way. It’s easy to tell ourselves we’re “too busy” to talk to a 22-year-old recent grad. I challenge YOU to avoid this cynicism and the trap of “busyness” to extend a hand to these young professionals. When they send us a cold email, a request to connect on LinkedIn or ask to talk to us at a networking event, our response needs to be, “Sure, I’d be happy to spend some time with you”.

And there’s even more we can do:

🌟 Mentorship Programs: Guide the next generation with your experience.
🎓 Internships & Entry-Level Roles: Provide essential hands-on learning.
📚 Continuous Learning: Invest in their growth and adaptability.
🤝 Inclusive Hiring: Embrace diverse talents for richer perspectives.

It’s not just about opening doors; it’s about empowering young professionals to walk through them with confidence. Our actions today will shape the leaders of tomorrow. Together, we can pave the way for a brighter future.

Share your experiences and ideas for supporting recent grads in the comments!