What Students Need to Know About “Entry-Level” Positions

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Between the rise of automation and companies increasingly beginning to realize the financial value in outsourcing more menial tasks, the demands of entry-level positions are rapidly changing. While new hires once expected and commonly received on-the-job training within the probation period of a new role, the majority of employers now expect new graduates to come equipped with the portfolio, technical skills, and often the professional network readily available to make a marked impact on the company from Day One.

The bottom line: entry-level positions aren’t so “entry-level” anymore, and the expectations are becoming progressively demanding.

What does this mean for the class of 2019? With such a rapid turnover in technical skills, graduates and emerging professionals need to be prepared to begin their professional journey on a more sophisticated level than previous generations.

In addition to acquiring competency in the technical skills not typically taught in college, as tech continues to develop, companies are beginning to emphasize the importance of soft skills: the ability to empathize, adapt, listen and communicate effectively - qualities that are irreplaceable when compared to AI.

Despite what technology is capable of overtaking, soft skills are the primary contributor to constructive leadership, emotional intelligence and interpersonal success, which all ultimately lead to a thriving company.

What does this mean for new graduates entering the workforce?

It could mean being asked to present publically, make sales calls or create a presentation within the first week of employment and with little to no on-the-job mentorship. In a new career, the ability to adapt, learn quickly and eagerly address unexpected tasks will not only lead to a potential promotion, but is expected by managers to simply maintain your position. As a student, it’s critical to hone these skills as early as possible by taking advantage of opportunities at your university, excelling in class projects, and participating in relevant internships, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

Not only will these opportunities enhance your resume, they’ll help prepare you for the reality of what’s expected when you land your first full-time position after graduation, according to the Wall Street Journal,

“The hard skills are changing. Just because we do a role one way today doesn’t mean we were doing it that way three years ago,” says Kelli Jordan, who runs career and skills initiatives for International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) , which has about 350,000 employees. “We need people who can adapt.”

So, in 2020 especially, what is the most important skill that will help you progress in your career? Adaptability.

While in many ways these facts can be positive news for graduates who are eager to avoid the traditional and tedious entry-level work, it also requires being prepared to undertake unanticipated projects, a willingness to be proactive in areas you want to advance professionally, a dedication to life-long learning and enough ambition to excel beyond the job description, both professionally and personally.

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