Start a First Year GRAD Experience for Your Graduates!

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Grads need help in the transition from campus to corporate life


Your college has a unique opportunity to build a stronger relationship with recent grads by adopting a First Year GRAD Experience. The FYGE would offer graduates access to career advice, information and curriculum anytime through any device as they transition from college to corporate life.  Few grads are prepared for this transition.

Few have the skills to search for joba, handle finances and manage the stresses of supporting themselves. All grads will struggle with some aspect of the campus to corporate transition.   See related post!

There is a precedent for this idea.

Your college probably has a First Year Experience (FYE) program.

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition was founded 32 years ago at the University of South Carolina by John Gardner to advance and support efforts to improve student learning and transitions into, and through, higher education. I got involved in the program nearly 20 years ago when I was promoting the use of photo business cards as a way for students to meet, remember each other’s names, and network with more students. The goal was to use business cards as a way to help students develop more friends so they would be less likely to drop out in the critical first 6 weeks.

The FYE program has been recognized for increasing retention and helping students manage the transition faster, with fewer issues. As a result, the effort is supported by staff and budgets, and it is embedded into the curriculum, organization, and cultures of campuses.

Your grads are facing significant campus to career transition issues!

A recent survey by the Career Advisory Board of nearly 600 career directors found that:

  • 48.1% thought students did not have the knowledge they needed to find jobs.
  • 55.7% felt students resumes were not professional enough to use for their job searches.

I keep going back to this industry study because it is screaming that something is broken and needs to be fixed.  Career directors correctly suggest in the report that one way to fix the problem is require students to take career courses while in college. The problem all cite, however, is that it is extremely difficult to get the administration and faculty behind the idea. The chances of adding career courses to the current curriculum in the next 5 years is slim to none.

An alternative solution is for your alumni association to adopt a First Year GRAD Experience program.

The alumni association and the career center could collaborate on a program that will provide a ramped up, post-graduation career program that will give idle grads an opportunity to hone their interviewing skills and knowledge about how to find jobs.

I would encourage your alumni association to take the lead on this program for two reasons:

  1. It will give them the opportunity to build a relationship with alumni that is NOT associated with fundraising.
  2. It will build a culture within your alumni association of giving back, mentoring and helping students get jobs.

With limited resources and staffing, this strategy helps you keep the career center focused on students and gives the alumni association the responsibility to reach out and engage recent grads with this program. In the end, the development office benefits.

Richard Bolles, author of the book, What’s The Color of Your Parachute? once said, “A working alum is a giving alum!”

So how do you get started?


  1. Find out if you have a FYE program on your campus.
  2. If you do, get an idea about the size of their staff and budget

I’d like you to start a discussion on your campus to question why the campus is not supporting grads in their transition from college to corporate life. They have trusted your college and rewarded it with $80,000 or more! Your college can’t just sit on its hands and consider it “a job well done.”   Your college is not done until every graduate has a job!

Your graduates’ needs are significant and the issues they face are great! Remind those you report to that a FYE program was introduced 32 years ago to solve a problem for the college and it’s time the college solves a number of problems grads are facing!

Be among the first movers in this area by starting discussions today. Please share this blog post with your boss, administrators and others to build support. Talk to students and get the young alumni group to pick this up as a project.  Quite frequently, if an idea shows strong support by students, and it makes sense, more people will get behind it!

It’s the right thing to do!

You need to act fast.  To help you get up to speed and not have to reinvent the wheel, consider adopting some of the anytime, anywhere career solutions TalentMarks provides.



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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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