The transition from college to the professional world has always presented challenges for new graduates (and their employers). Recent graduates face a unique set of obstacles due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, many of today’s entry-level professionals are struggling to thrive in an office setting. Both universities and employers are taking a variety of approaches to bridge the gap.
Moving past a unique college experience
It’s one thing to master the technical side of work, but navigating the dynamics of working face-to-face in an office is not intuitive for everyone. Recent graduates (particularly members of the class of 2023) experienced a dramatically different college journey than their predecessors, with a considerable portion of their college years unfolding in virtual and hybrid learning environments. Many of the face-to-face interactions that shape communication skills and introduce social dynamics were in short supply. Students also missed out on opportunities to complete professional internships in an office setting, and recruiters have reported an alarming lack of mentorship for both students and young professionals.
According to the iCIMS Class of 2023 Report, after the chaos of the pandemic, this cohort of new graduates wants to put down roots and grow with a company:
- 65% care how long they stay with an employer
- 44% cited opportunities for growth as their top concern in job hunting
- 35% are looking for a long-term career path fresh out of college
The report also revealed that if an employer isn’t willing to put in the effort to develop an entry-level hire’s skills and provide a pathway to success, they’ll be likely to explore career opportunities with a different organization that can fulfill those needs.
Companies, universities, and recruiters have recognized the need to close the gap in new graduates’ skill sets, as well as provide them with sought-after opportunities for growth. As such, organizations are investing in training programs to equip cohorts of new grads with the necessary competencies and tools to thrive in the office environment. Focal areas include effective communication, networking, presentation skills, conflict resolution, and adaptability.
How to create a unique learning experience in new graduate training programs
Regardless of their college experience, new graduates have little patience for learning experiences that don’t challenge and engage them. Scenario simulations offer a powerful solution to prepare entry-level employees for the challenges they will face in the modern workplace. These immersive learning experiences provide an engaging environment where learners can practice navigating ambiguity, as well as a safe way to learn from failure. Real-world scenarios create opportunities for new graduates to apply their knowledge and skills in a risk-free setting, maximizing engagement, application, retention, and measurable behavior change.
Here’s what makes well-designed simulations successful at growing learners’ confidence and competence:
- A team-based approach creates a fun and collaborative environment that encourages learners to experiment, debate, and discuss, promoting a culture of learning and growth. Learners can practice their skills in face-to-face interactions.
- Scenario simulations provide a controlled environment in which learners can fail forward. By analyzing the consequences of their actions and reflecting on alternative approaches, they develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills necessary for success in today’s dynamic business environment.
- Traditional training methods often fail to captivate and engage a cohort of learners that grew up playing video games. Scenario simulations, on the other hand, offer a dynamic and interactive learning experience that is both engaging and enjoyable. By incorporating gamification elements and immersive storytelling in context, these simulations tap into learners’ intrinsic motivation, ensuring higher levels of engagement and knowledge retention.
- Scenario simulations provide a valuable opportunity to assess learners’ performance and track behavior change. By incorporating feedback mechanisms and performance metrics within the simulations, organizations can gather data on learners’ progress, identify areas for improvement, and tailor subsequent training interventions accordingly.
Companies have made significant investments in recruiting the class of 2023; new graduate training programs are an opportunity to create a memorable onboarding experience that improves job readiness and mitigates the awkward in-office faux pas.
Your partner in scenario simulations that drive meaningful change
Blueline’s team-based immersive learning experiences provide new graduates with a safe and fun environment to address skill deficiencies head-on, helping organizations overcome challenges related to communication, professional conduct, and workplace expectations as the Class of 2023 transitions into the professional world. Get in touch with the team to tell us about your training needs.