Professional Illness Afflicting College Grads - Generation NEXT Experiences On-set Career Crisis

Share Article

On-set Career Crisis is growing amongst college grads. Saddled with post-college debt, low starting salaries, an overwhelming amount of career choices, and too little guidance to help them find work that excites them is causing many young people to avoid embarking on a career path. The result is a generation that sees 'career' as an ugly word and who is unmotivated to want to engage in the workforce. Can you blame them? It's time to help.

Today's college graduates say they want to find meaningful work and the personal-professional balance that's eluded generations before them, but career expert, J.T. O'Donnell, says her work with Generation NEXT indicates otherwise. "I'm seeing an increasing amount of On-Set Career Crisis."

What's On-Set Career Crisis? It's O'Donnell's term for recent college grads, feeling anxiety and confusion from an inability to identify careers they can get excited about. As graduation season approaches, O'Donnell says parents should be concerned their graduate could experience this professional challenge: "We need to recognize this generation's career avoidance for what it really is: fear. Young people today have no idea how they'll find the right career. Society isn't setting the example or handing the answers to them on a silver platter. So their opting to avoid the problem, hoping the solution will eventually present itself. Unfortunately, that day doesn't come, and when reality sets in, they are confused, overwhelmed, angry, and in some cases, experiencing acute anxiety." (For more comprehensive information about On-Set Career Crisis, see the attached file.)

O'Donnell is the founder of the career coaching company BLUE KILOWATT, author of a top career guide book, and creator of an innovative career resource for Generation NEXT, To contact O'Donnell directly, by toll-free phone at (877) 588-5455, or e-mail at

What's causes On-Set Career Crisis? O'Donnell points to pop behaviorism. "Parents, educators, and even corporate America commonly use reward and punishment systems that bribe individuals to perform desired behaviors." O'Donnell says this technique's been used on this generation to the extreme, with long-term effects now manifesting. "Young people today been conditioned to both focus on and expect a reward for every action they take. They're the 'on-demand, instant gratification generation.' As a result, some have never experienced what it's like to work purely for the satisfaction derived from their efforts." O'Donnell says this can be seen in the generation's attendance of college. "Ask any college student today why they're in school. Most will say the same thing: because it's expected." O'Donnell says the choice to go to college has actually been taken away from Generation NEXT. "They must attend so they can gain respect and acceptance, a.k.a. a reward in the form of praise, from parents and society." O'Donnell says lack of proper motivation for attending college often results in college experiences devoid of any effort to find a career path. O'Donnell is also concerned with the way students are led to believe the bigger reward for attending college is the guarantee of a good career and a happy life. "When these don't materialize after a year or two, students become both resentful and concerned by the prospect of spending all that time, energy, and money on a degree, only to end up feeling incapable of effectively managing their future. This is when On-Set Career Crisis really starts to take hold mentally."

Why's finding a career so hard for a recent college grad today? O'Donnell says parents and educators aren't looking at the situation from their point of view. "We're sending college grads out to pick a career in the same way we would send them to a grocery store and ask them to pick their favorite food. With so much choice, where do you begin? Add the caveat that whatever food they choose they must eat almost every day for the next few years, and the choice gets more overwhelming. Further complicate the choice by telling them to choose wisely, because if they don't pick a good food to sustain them, it could make them sick. All these expectations for a generation, who to this point, has never had to choose for themselves. It's no wonder why the idea of embarking on a career path has become so unpalatable." O'Donnell says it's time to stop saying, "You can be anything you want." While well-intended, it doesn't help. "Generation NEXT needs to understand how to assess their unique combination of strengths, skills, and interests, as well as how to translate them in to suitable career paths. They need to learn a method for narrowing down options, so the decision is not only more manageable, but provides consistently good results."

Why aren't colleges helping with this problem? O'Donnell says college career centers offer valuable information around landing the first job, but this only serves students who already know what they want to do. "Unfortunately, only a fraction of students bother to use their college career centers. Contrary to what students tell administrators, most graduates actually feel campus resources aren't useful. But that's because colleges don't have the tools or staff to help each student complete the self assessment and career compatibility process so vital to finding satisfying work."

What's the solution to On-Set Career Crisis? O'Donnell says building awareness will not only help students open up about their career concerns, but also help parents, educators, and even corporate America become more compassionate and involved in providing students with the proper guidance and support. "A college degree does not guarantee a happy life. Students need to be coached on how to find their internal motivation with respect to work. We need to show this future generation of leaders how to get satisfaction from a job that inspires them to learn, or the number of college-educated, depressed, and professionally disadvantaged workers in America will continue to rise."

More information on O'Donnell's coaching work is available at She can be reached by toll-free phone at (877)588-5455.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

J.T. O'Donnell
Visit website