December 10, 2023

Innovation & Tech Today


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8 Ways Graduates Are Navigating Next-Gen Tech in the Workforce

Next-generation technology has drastically changed the modern work landscape. Forget Zoom meetings — even email itself is relatively new, saving people a trip to their manager’s office to ask about time off. Now, with generative artificial intelligence (AI), instant messaging, and even augmented reality exploding in recent years, graduates are entering a very different workplace than their parents. How are they handling it?

Staying Up-to-Date

New graduates read the news, peruse research papers, and watch videos to stay caught up with next-generation technology trends. Younger generations are more likely to adopt technology as it comes out and learn to use it quickly. They also have a more positive view of new tech. In one survey, 19% of Gen Z respondents rated tech-savviness as the most important quality of their generation.

Signing Up for Internships and Apprenticeships

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New graduates often participate in internships or apprenticeships before transitioning to the workforce. These programs train up-and-coming workers on valuable skills, including how to use next-generation technology and get along with professionals in the workplace.

In an increasingly competitive market, internships and apprenticeships can also be easier to obtain than jobs, especially for graduates just getting started in their careers. Employers often use these programs to shape job candidates for future positions.

Going Back to School

Many new graduates struggle to find jobs amid an uncertain market. In 2021, almost 50% of U.S. 2020 graduates were still looking for a career — nearly a year after they finished college.

That’s why many new graduates decide to pursue a higher education. With so many employers requiring a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, having a master’s degree or higher helps job seekers stand out. It can also give them the skills needed to move up in their current workplace. Online classes have made it easier for people to balance a career and school at the same time.

Joining Professional Communities

Up-and-coming workers often attend industry events, become part of professional networks, and join online communities of other workers in their field. Networking offers a chance to connect with industry experts and engage in discussions that foster learning and collaboration.

Networking can also help new employees who feel overwhelmed or confused by their jobs. Many new graduates have impostor syndrome, the feeling that they aren’t actually competent in their field and were hired by mistake. This feeling can become stronger when employees have to learn to use new technology at work. Talking with other professionals can reassure workers that many people feel unsure and are still great at their jobs.

Seeking Mentorship and Guidance

Many young professionals seek the guidance of someone older or more experienced. Mentors can provide valuable insights, offer career advice, and help new graduates navigate the complexities of the workplace.

Mentorship is a crucial part of many careers, especially jobs in the trades where hands-on experience is paramount. A Gallup survey found that only 40% of employees have a workplace mentor. But employees with mentors are twice as likely to strongly agree that they have chances to grow and learn at work. They’re also 75% more likely to strongly agree that their workplace offers a clear plan for their career development.

Embracing Self-Learning

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have made it easier than ever for new graduates to continue learning. Platforms like Coursera offer thousands of free, open online courses — many of them from prestigious universities — to practically anyone who wants to attend. Graduates can take these classes on their own time to help them advance at work.

Other resources that have made learning more accessible include audiobooks, e-books, and podcasts, all of which are compatible with working a full-time job. On the technical side of things, new graduates are learning about cloud computing, programming, big data analytics, and software development, with a strong focus on cybersecurity and AI.

But new grads are also brushing up on their soft skills. Workplaces increasingly want employees with a growth mindset, strong interpersonal skills, and a willingness to take on challenges, so young professionals are polishing these skills off the clock. Self-help books, online videos, and even therapy are helping young professionals develop much-needed skills for the workplace, many of which improve the ability to use new technologies.

Asking for Help

Most new graduates belong to Gen Z, who are notorious for their willingness to be vulnerable. Many people in this young generation talk unabashedly about mental health struggles, burnout, and stress in the workplace, and they aren’t afraid to ask for help in these areas.

One of the biggest ways new graduates navigate next-gen technology is by simply asking for guidance from co-workers or managers. Rather than viewing this act as a form of weakness, many see it as just another part of learning to excel at a new job.

Employers can help new hires understand workplace technology through informal or formal training. Although training can have high upfront costs, it’s critical for getting employees on the same page and allowing them to do their jobs more efficiently. It pays for itself in the long run.

Participating in Competitions

Go-getters who want to learn more about next-generation technology are joining hackathons, coding competitions, and other programming challenges to improve their skills. These events are especially useful to anyone who wants to work in IT or cybersecurity. They give new graduates a fun, hands-on way to gain experience in their chosen field.

Additionally, these competitions can bring employees together and help them bond over a shared activity. They can strengthen skills such as teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace.

Leveraging Next-Generation Technology

Tools like Zoom and ChatGPT are redefining the workplace. Employees can be untethered from the physical office, instantly connect with colleagues, and rapidly find solutions to complex problems. Workers find themselves having to constantly adapt to new forms of tech.

Young professionals are learning about some next-generation technology themselves, but they’re also taking classes and making interpersonal connections to improve their skills. With so many methods for learning becoming accessible, it’s no wonder new graduates are embracing technology with open arms. 

By Emily Newton

By Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a tech journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers science and technology stories. Subscribe to Innovation & Tech Today to read more from Emily.

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