Young college grads should avoid companies that don't offer avenues for promotion and push heavy workloads for low pay.
Graduating from college is a huge milestone that floods the market with a pool of eager young workers ready to launch into their chosen professions. But if you’re a young college grad, it can be easy to let your enthusiasm get in the way of making a solid decision about which company to work for after graduation. Unfortunately, many companies make it an unwritten policy to churn through young workers, treating them as disposable commodities.
A young college grad will want to avoid these types of jobs, and it will take a bit of research to identify those with a high employee turnover rate. However, it is worth it to continue doing your homework to avoid these companies. Having a resume filled with many short-term positions at multiple companies can be harmful because it may make you look like a quitter.
This doesn’t mean that every menial entry-level position should be avoided. Some careers require this lower-pay, boot-camp type of training to identify the workers who have what it takes to succeed. A legitimate company may ask a lot from its young college grads, but it will also offer a clear path to promotion, a defined set of goals to reach, and the mentorship and training required to help young employees succeed.
Most employers want to invest in their workers so they will stay with the organization for the long haul. Helen Hughes, associate professor at Leeds University Business School in the UK told BBC Worklife that certain roles, such as public relations, have a clear “paying your dues” period at the start of young college grad careers. These lower-paid roles “fit into a person’s career trajectory: the expectation is that in the early stages, you have to take junior roles before you can progress,” Hughes says.
Other companies have what Hughes calls a “short-sighted model” that churns through a young college grad pool, mainly for financial reasons. Young adults fresh out of college know they will be near the bottom of the salary ladder so they don’t bring the compensation expectations of more experienced workers. Some of these companies view young employees as a source of cheap, undervalued labor that is more willing to accept poor working conditions.
This makes a young college grad especially malleable. Companies love this because they can mold the worker into an employee who does things their way and the worker may not even realize they are being taken advantage of. “They’re unclouded by experience,” says Hughes, “which brings advantages to an employer.”
The short-term risk of these positions is burnout as workers bear the weight of long hours, low pay, menial tasks, and heavy workloads. Many young college grads don’t realize they can advocate for themselves, or they feel intimidated at the thought of speaking up. This is especially true if language is a barrier or other employer/employee differences are factors.
If you take on a new job as a young college grad but notice a lot of other workers quitting or being fired, start asking why. Better yet, read extensive employer/employee reviews on Glassdoor and other job-rating sites before accepting your first job out of college. There are more questions being asked now about graduate jobs, says Hughes, and “there’s more calling out of bad work practices on social media, meaning there’s greater pressure for organizations that don’t look after their young employees to change.”