Tess C. Burick

Publication Date

Spring 2014


This research study will examine the topic of college students’ expectations of the work world and professional life following gradation. Specifically, this study will answer three research questions- (RQ1): What resources do college students use in order to construct and maintain their expectations about work and the work world? (RQ2) What expectations do college students have about life following college? And (RQ3) What messages do institutional organizations within universities deliver to students about the work world? This study will be conducted at a small, private university using three participant interviews conducted with graduating seniors and two workshop observations at on-campus Career Center. The findings of this research suggest college students have prominent expectations of uncertainty and mobility upon graduating and create and maintain lifestyle expectations through the use of peers while using organizational resources as tools for accessing the work world. Additionally, this particular private university focused on institutional messages of professionalism, employment and networking as critical to life in the work world. In conclusion, this study suggests that high levels of uncertainty among college graduates may be minimalized by increased prior exposure to the work world through networking and internships. Therefore future research should examine whether or not universities are adequately stressing the importance of internships and networking and preparing students to engage with these experiences. Furthermore, future research should also examine the willingness of the student to take initiative in pursuing applicable work experience prior to graduation.

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Document Type

Student Project

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Communication Commons