As the most recent group of college grads earns their diplomas, they may not necessarily have everything they need to enter the working world.
That's at least according to a new survey by Accountemps - a division of global staffing firm Robert Half - that found that more than half (56 percent) of accounting and finance professionals said they felt only somewhat prepared for their first job after graduation. Another 14 percent said they were not at all prepared.
Respondents were unready for their first professional jobs in multiple ways. Almost half (49 percent) indicated the knowledge they gained in the classroom didn’t translate to their position. One-third (33 percent) said they felt ill-equipped to handle office politics, and 23 percent said they lacked technology skills or software knowledge.
"There are some types of skills and expertise that can only be gained through practical experience," said Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps, in a statement. "Students should take the initiative to find opportunities such as internships and temporary assignments that provide a taste of the business world and allow them to build their resume and expand their network."
Driscoll advised those preparing for their first job search to be open to all kinds of work experiences while in school. "All work is valuable and teaches people how to interact with and handle different types of people and situations," he added. "By exposing yourself to professional environments and projects in your area of interest, you can gain needed skills -- and make yourself more marketable to employers."
Accountemps offers five tips to help students prepare for their first jobs out of school:
- Join student and trade groups. Participating in an industry organization will help you expand your network. Look for opportunities to take on a leadership role; your involvement will enhance your visibility.
- Seek internships. Tap your college career center to identify internships in your field. You'll gain hands-on expertise and technical knowledge.
- Get connected. Stay in touch with key advisors, professors and internship managers. These contacts can be a resource even after you graduate and speak to potential hiring managers on your behalf.
- Consider temporary work. Staffing firms often have assignments for which students or recent college graduates may be a match. You can gain work experience, meet prospective employers and learn about different companies -- all while earning an income.
- Give back. Look for volunteer opportunities that align with your professional goals. For example, if you're an accounting major, offer to help a local nonprofit with its bookkeeping.
Check out Accountemps' Infographic below. For more on Accountemps' survey, head to their site here.