Learning the Ropes, From the Bottom Up, Even if You Have a Degree

Should we talk to college graduates about the possibility of entering the workforce and “learning the ropes” from the bottom up? College graduates are anxious to start their careers, test their skills, and make their mark on the world! Charged up with years of studying, these graduates can’t wait to get hired and prove their intellectual mettle. Who can blame them? Maybe they’ve been told that they have “what it takes” to be “at the top”… but are they really armed with the complex skills to be successful “at the top”? Are they really ready with just the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired in college?

The information graduates have learned certainly gives them some practical knowledge and (depending on the college), they may have critical work experience that gives them a deeper understanding of the work environment. Whether they have earned a business degree or a welding certificate, the practical day to day applied experience is crucial to be valuable to an employer. Getting to know a business from the ground up or putting aside what you have learned in college and learning how things are done “in the real world” – perhaps these are experiences that recent graduates should expect when they enter the workforce. (I’ve heard a lot of grumblings from executives that recent graduates have unrealistic expectations).

Matt Duprey is someone who was hired right out of college with the promise of becoming vice president of sales in Hancock Lumber’s sawmill division. Did he just walk into Hancock Lumber and have the knowledge, experience and relationships expected of a VP? No. Did he understand the product, the standards, the culture of Hancock Lumber? No. As Matt said in our Destination Occupation  interview, when he was hired at Hancock Lumber he “started piling boards” and “learned what yield means” and learned what the “customers expectations” are. This took two years of on the job training. Matt didn’t mind, he had reasonable expectations and Hancock Lumber was very clear with him about what his trajectory there would be.

Today, Matt is a highly respected, well experienced, firmly established executive in one of our state’s oldest, most successful lumber companies. He took what he learned at the University of Maine at Orono, in the School of Forest Resources and spent two years of on the job training, and is right where he wants to be! Vice President of Sales at Hancock Lumber, a great Maine company. Ayuh!

You can watch Matt’s video on Hancock Lumber’s page on Destination Occupation here!

Do you have a similar story to share?  I’d love to hear it!  Leave a comment or email me!

rachel@destinationoccupation.com

Rachel Knight, creator and principal, Destination Occupation

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