What do Gen Z Fresh Graduates Do After Graduation: A Psychological Perspective

fresh graduate

Graduation is a significant milestone, and for Gen Z, it marks the beginning of a journey filled with diverse and non-traditional paths. Unlike previous generations, stability might not be the top priority for Gen Z. Fresh graduates of this generation are redefining what it means to step into adulthood and the workforce. Here are some of the popular choices they make after donning their caps and gowns.

Gen Z talent

Taking a Gap Year: A Quest for Self-Discovery

One notable trend among Gen Z graduates is taking a gap year. This period is often used for personal growth, travel, learning new skills, or volunteering. A gap year provides the time and space for Gen Z graduates to explore their identities outside the structured environment of academia.

It’s an opportunity to gain life experiences that can be valuable both personally and professionally.

  • Erikson’s Identity vs. Role Confusion: During this stage, young adults explore different roles and ideas to form a cohesive identity. A gap year serves as an ideal period for this exploration.
  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT): This theory posits that people have basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. A gap year often satisfies these needs by providing autonomy in decision-making, opportunities to develop new skills (competence), and chances to build meaningful relationships (relatedness).

Benefits of a Gap Year

  • Cultural Exposure: Traveling exposes graduates to different cultures and perspectives in the modern multicultural community.
  • Skill Acquisition: Engaging in various activities can help in acquiring soft and hard skills.
  • Exploration and Experimentation: Gen Z are giving themselves a ‘trial-and-error’ time to engage in diverse activities, which fosters personal growth and helps in identifying passions and interests.

The Rise of Slashers: Balancing Multiple Identities

The concept of “slashers” refers to individuals who juggle multiple careers or side hustles simultaneously (e.g., graphic designer/dancer/influencer). As there are more and more up-and-coming career fields, this trend is gaining popularity among Gen Z graduates who seek variety and multiple income streams. Moreover, under the encouragement of the ‘all-rounded development’ of the education system, Gen Z is often versatile with non-academic hobbies and skills. Slash careers allow them to explore multiple facets of their identity simultaneously.

Multifaceted Identity and Fulfillment

  • Jung’s Individuation Process: Slash careers allow individuals to integrate various aspects of their personality, leading to a more cohesive and authentic self.
  • Flow Theory: Proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this theory suggests that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—fully immersed and involved in activities. Slashers often experience flow by engaging in diverse and fulfilling activities.

 

Why Slash?

  • Diversification: Reduces dependency on a single income source. Engaging in multiple careers satisfies the need for creative and professional self-expression.
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: Offers control over working hours and environments. Control over work schedules and environments enhances job satisfaction.
  • Resilience and Adaptability: Managing multiple roles develops adaptability and resilience in the face of changing circumstances.

Entering the 9-6 Workforce: Seeking Stability and Growth

Despite the allure of alternative paths, many Gen Z graduates still opt for the traditional 9-6 job. However, their approach to these roles often differs from previous generations. Stability, professional development, and work-life balance are key factors in their job selection. Securing a job fulfills basic physiological and safety needs, allowing individuals to focus on higher-order aspirations such as belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization.

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: By securing a job, graduates fulfill their basic needs for safety and financial security, which then allows them to focus on social relationships, esteem, and self-actualization.
  • Transactional Analysis (TA): This model helps in understanding workplace interactions. Gen Z employees often look for environments where they can engage in ‘Adult-Adult’ transactions, emphasizing mutual respect, collaboration, and growth.

Key Psychological Factors

  • Security and Predictability: A stable job provides financial security and a predictable routine, reducing anxiety and stress.
  • Professional Identity: Joining the workforce helps in building a professional identity and gaining a sense of purpose.
  • Achievement and Growth: Career advancement opportunities fulfill the need for achievement and personal growth.

Pursuing Further Education: Deepening Knowledge and Expertise

While some jump straight into the workforce, others choose to continue their education. Investing in further education aligns with long-term career goals and aspirations. Pursuing a master’s degree, diploma courses, or certifications in specialized fields can enhance job prospects and provide deeper knowledge in their chosen area of study.


Mastery and Long-Term Goals

  • Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): Further education often places individuals in their ZPD, where they can achieve higher levels of understanding with the guidance of instructors and peers.
  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT): Advanced education satisfies the need for competence and relatedness, as individuals work towards mastery in their chosen fields alongside like-minded peers.

Why Further Education?

  • Specialisation: Gaining expertise in a specific field.
  • Competitive Edge: Standing out in a crowded job market.
  • Academic Passion: Continuing to explore subjects of interest.

Entrepreneurship: Innovating and Leading


The entrepreneurial spirit is strong among Gen Z, with many graduates aiming to start their own businesses. The accessibility of digital tools and platforms has made it easier than ever to launch startups and entrepreneurial ventures.

Psychologically, this choice reflects traits such as high self-efficacy, risk-taking, and a strong internal locus of control. Entrepreneurs often possess a growth mindset, which enables them to view challenges as opportunities for growth.

Psychological Traits

  • High Self-Efficacy: Belief in one’s ability to achieve goals fuels entrepreneurial endeavours.
  • Autonomy and Control: Desire for independence and control over one’s career drives entrepreneurial pursuits.
  • Innovative Thinking: Openness to new ideas and solutions is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs.

Conclusion

Gen Z graduates are not confined to a single path after graduation. This generation is not just entering adulthood; they are actively shaping what it means to live a fulfilling and balanced life in the modern world. Their choices reflect a blend of personal growth, professional ambition, and a desire to make impactful contributions to society. In doing so, Gen Z is not only adapting to the future—they are creating it.

 

Overcoming Meeting Anxiety: An Introvert’s Guide to Shining in the Workplace

Introvert work meeting

Overcoming Meeting Anxiety: An Introvert’s Guide to Shining in the Workplace

Picture this – you are in a meeting. You feel pressured to say something because it feels like the right thing to do. You want to speak up, but you need more time to process everyone’s ideas first. You’re eager to demonstrate your value to your coworkers and boss, yet you find yourself holding back. Sounds familiar? These are some of the challenges Introverts often encounter in the workplace.

Introvert work meeting

What is Introversion?

Before we dive into how introverts can navigate the workplace, let’s first explore the nature of introversion. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is arguably the most widely recognized personality assessment recently. Rooted in the principles formulated by renowned psychologist Carl Jung, the MBTI conceptualises introversion as a preference for directing one’s focus inward. As a result, introverts tend to be more introspective, drawing energy from reflecting on ideas and experiences. A key consequence of this inclination is that introverts are often drained by social interaction, and feel more inclined towards solitude.

Despite scientific evidence, the ideal worker is often portrayed as an extrovert. This perception casts introverts as disadvantaged in the workplace. However, introverts possess unique strengths that are highly valuable. Moreover, learning to develop complementary extroverted skills can also help introverts thrive in a variety of roles and environments.

The Trap of Rigid Self-Identification

Due to the popularity of MBTI, many people took the test and defined themselves according to the results. It is not uncommon nowadays to share and exchange stereotypes about MBTI as an ice-breaker. Despite the applauding social value, the proliferation of MBTI has led to a phenomenon where individuals can become overly fixated on their type, presenting themselves as static “Introverts” or “Extraverts.”

While it is great to gain a deeper understanding of oneself, curating your identity solely base on your MBTI can be unhealthy. In psychology, there is a phenomenon called cognitive rigidity. Defined as the inability to mentally adapt to new demands or information, cognitive rigidity is the product of repeated reinforcement of a belief, and resistance to change even when situational demand renders this belief ineffective. Repetitive self-labelling as an “introvert” can lead to cognitive rigidity, modelling more introverted behaviours and a reluctance to adopt beneficial extraverted skills, even when situationally appropriate.

It’s natural to avoid discomfort, especially when you feel being extroverted is inauthentic. However, as clever consumers of MBTI, we need to know that the MBTI is designed to provide insight into your natural tendencies and preferences, not to limit your potential. Rather, it highlights your strengths and points to areas for growth.

In fact, it’s important to develop the awareness that throughout the day, there are times when we all need to access more extroverted qualities for tasks that require sensing and feeling. The goal should be to enhance strengths and develop weaknesses – including cultivating extroverted skills when situationally appropriate, as no one can be 100% introverted all the time. Rigid self-identification will inhibit personal growth.

How to Become More Extroverted for Meetings?

Recognising the need to access extroverted capacities is the first step. The next challenge is putting this into practice, especially in professional settings where more extroverted behaviours may be expected or beneficial.

One common obstacle that introverts often face in the workplace is actively participating in meetings. While extroverts may be more naturally inclined to immediately voice their ideas or thoughts, introverts may not share the same propensity. Yet in many meeting environments, there can be an implicit pressure to contribute right away. Additionally, introverts tend to need more time to thoroughly process the various inputs and perspectives shared by others, which can make it appear as though they are not fully engaged. With these factors in mind, there are a few key things that introverts should consider doing before, during and after a meeting.

Before the meeting Since Introverts do not usually think on their feet, we suggest Introverts spend more time preparing for meetings. it is recommended that they spend more time preparing for meetings. This could involve requesting the meeting agenda in advance and dedicating around 30 minutes to research the topics you will be involved with, jotting down key points. If you are not accustomed to addressing a group, it does not hurt to rehearse your intended contributions a few times before the actual meeting. Research has shown that imagining the situation as vividly as possible while rehearsing is effective in reducing stress during the actual presentation. Proper preparation is often the crucial first step towards success in these situations.

During the meeting Introverts should try to be the first to speak. This is the opportunity to show your preparedness and leave a good impression. People often give dispositional attention to the information that is presented first, a phenomenon known as the “primacy effect.”. By being one of the first to contribute, you can leave the impression that you were actively participating in the meeting, reducing the chances of being perceived as disengaged. Moreover, when people recall the events of the meeting afterwards, they are more likely to remember the points you made. So even when you cannot respond to other’s input throughout the meeting because it takes more time for you to process, you avoid giving people the idea that you are daydreaming.

After the meeting Just because you may not have actively participated in back-and-forth discussions, the conversation does not necessarily need to end when the meeting concludes. The purpose of a meeting can range from disseminating information to gathering ideas and making decisions. You can still provide your thoughts and contribute to the overall performance of the team, even after the fact. In fact, a post-meeting discussion may actually align well with the personality traits of introverted individuals, as they often feel more comfortable communicating in writing. Setting personality considerations aside, revisiting an issue after a period of time can have inherent value, a phenomenon known as the “incubation effect.” As our minds unconsciously continue to process problems, better solutions or ingenious insights might arise given the time gap. Taking the initiative to document these ideas and share them with your colleagues can foster innovation and effective solutions – outcomes that are likely to work to your advantage when it comes time for performance reviews.

Conclusion

 In conclusion, the key for introverts to thrive in the workplace is to embrace their natural tendencies while also developing complementary extroverted skills. By preparing thoroughly for meetings, actively contributing ideas, and continuing engagement after the fact, introverted professionals can effectively showcase their value and make meaningful contributions.

Are Introverted Employees Inferior?

Introverted Employee

As an introvert, you may sometimes feel that your quieter nature is unfairly judged in the workplace. However, take heart – you are far from alone. According to a recent 2023 study, an estimated 40-50% of the workforce is identified as introverted. Introverts are, in fact, a significant presence in the modern workplace, not a minority.

Moreover, introverts bring a unique set of valuable strengths to organizations. In this article, we’ll explore the world of introversion and dispel the widespread but mistaken assumption that extroversion is the ideal trait for professional success.

Introverted Employee

What is Introversion?

The Big Five Personality traits, a prominent psychological framework, classify individuals along five key dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Within this model, introversion and extraversion exist as two opposing ends of the spectrum.

Introverts are those who tend to prefer solitude, feeling fatigued by excessive social interaction and generally appearing more reserved. It may be helpful to visualise a “social battery” – introverts are those who find this battery depleted after social events, while extroverts are those who feel energised and recharged. As a result, introverts often seek solitude to restore their reserves after engaging in social activities, not because they dislike such events, but because they can find them draining.

Determining whether you fall into the introvert or extrovert category is not guesswork. There are well-validated self-report questionnaires available online that can measure your placement along the introversion-extraversion spectrum, as well as assess the other Big Five personality traits. If you are uncertain about your tendencies, investing 10 minutes to complete one of these assessments can provide valuable insight into your own personality profile.

Introverts at Work

At work, introverted individuals often prefer to operate in a solitary manner, as this is where they feel most productive. Given that introverts tend to feel drained after prolonged social interactions, working alone allows them to conserve their energy and prevent burnout. During meetings, introverted employees are more likely to remain quiet due to their reflective nature, speaking up only when they have a truly insightful contribution to make, rather than feeling compelled to be the first to voice their thoughts.

This combination of tendencies can unfortunately contribute to the facade that introverts are less capable than their extroverted counterparts. In many business settings, traits such as active social engagement, initiative-taking, and assertiveness are highly valued and rewarded. When compared to extroverts, introverts may be perceived as socially awkward and passive. The consequences of this negative evaluation are reflected in empirical research, which has found that extroverts tend to experience greater success in job applications and career advancement.

Debunking Myths of Introversion: Faulty Psychological Theory

The ideal worker is often portrayed as an extrovert, while their introverted counterparts are seen as inferior. However, is this perception truly accurate? The apparent disadvantage of embodying introverted traits stems from a faulty theoretical understanding. Recent research has supported the notion that all personality traits can shine given the right situation. Additionally, the rewards assigned to extraversion could be a culturally specific phenomenon, exhibiting extraversion might not provide an edge in East Asian environments.

The bias towards extroversion has its theoretical roots from Sigmund Freud. Freud, the most famous psychologist to have ever lived, was the first to theorise on extraversion versus introversion. He concluded that introversion is a sign of developmental immaturity and neurosis, a view that was generally agreed upon in research until the 1970s. However, contemporary works have proved many of Freud’s assertions wrong, as there is no evidence that connects introversion, developmental maturity, and neuroticism.

In the work context, extraversion only predicts high job performance for occupations that require extensive social interaction, such as managerial and sales representative roles. On the other hand, introverts have found successful careers in fields like software engineering and data analytics. Interestingly, the personality trait that has consistently predicted job performance across industries is conscientiousness – the disposition of self-control and being well-organised.

Surprisingly, there is also evidence to suggest that individuals who are high in neuroticism, and therefore have low emotional stability, are better at completing tasks. This indicates that each personality trait has its own unique strengths and that it is inaccurate to think there is a “better” personality type over another.


The key takeaway is that there is no one-size-fits-all ideal worker. Rather, the right fit between an individual’s personality traits and the demands of a particular role or occupation is what allows employees to unlock their full potential and be most productive. A strength-based approach to evaluating and assigning tasks is important, as it enables team leaders to capitalize on the diverse strengths of their employees.


The notion of the extrovert ideal worker has deep cultural roots. Psychological science has been historically Eurocentric, producing knowledge that carries inherent cultural limitations. The relationship between personality and reward is, in part, mediated by cultural influences.

Debunking Myths of Introversion: Cultural Differences

In Western individualist cultures, individuals are primarily motivated by their own personal preferences, needs, and rights. To thrive in such a society, an individual must validate and express their unique, internal attributes and goals. Attributes associated with extraversion, such as assertiveness and sociability, allow individuals to fulfil aspirational societal expectations in these individualist cultures, which are then manifested through rewards in the workplace.

In contrast, cross-cultural research has shown that Asians, on average, tend to be less extroverted than their European counterparts. A possible explanation for this difference could be that Asian cultures do not reward extroverted behaviours to the same degree as Western individualist cultures. As a result, less extroverted behaviours emerge, leading to lower overall ratings of extraversion.

This cultural difference can be attributed to the contrasting values and norms between Asian and Western societies. Rather than asserting one’s individual goals, Asian cultures tend to emphasise the importance of maintaining harmonious relationships within the social group. Traits associated with introversion, such as shyness, are often evaluated positively in Asian societies, as they are seen to indicate maturity and self-restraint.

Conversely, the same introverted traits may be viewed as immaturity and discouraged in Western individualist cultures, where the ideal is often the confident, assertive individual who actively pursues their personal aspirations. This highlights how the desirability of certain personality characteristics is heavily influenced by the cultural context.

Understanding these cross-cultural differences in the valuation of personality traits is crucial when evaluating employee performance and potential in an increasingly globalised workforce. Adopting a more culturally-sensitive and inclusive approach, rather than relying on Eurocentric norms, can help organisations unlock the diverse strengths of a diverse employee base.

Conclusion

As this article has highlighted, the introvert experience in the workplace is complex and often misunderstood. While the extrovert ideal persists in many Western business cultures, the reality is that introverts comprise a significant portion of the modern workforce. By fostering an inclusive environment that values diverse personality types, businesses can unlock the full potential of their entire workforce, introverts and extroverts alike.

Ultimately, the path to organisational success lies in embracing the natural diversity of human personality, not prescribing to a one-size-fits-all notion of the ideal employee.

Gen Z’s Major Shift: Why Today’s Gen Z Graduates Choose Careers Outside Their Fields

Gen Z Graduates

Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are known for their unique perspectives and values. As they prepare to enter the workforce in large numbers, a noticeable trend has emerged among Gen Z graduates – many choose careers outside their fields of study. In this post, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and delve into how Gen Z defines success in the workplace.

Gen Z Graduates

Work-life Balance and Flexibility

One key factor driving Gen Z’s career choices is their desire for work-life balance and flexibility. A Deloitte Report found that 75% of respondents prefer a job with full flexibility over a high salary. Compared to other generations, Gen Z puts more emphasis on work-life balance, prioritising their well-being over money.

A primary factor influencing this preference is the unique environment in which Gen Z grew up. Being the first generation to have widespread access to electronics and growing up during the COVID-19 pandemic, platforms like Zoom used for remote schooling and work have permanently shaped their perception of work, leading them to seek flexibility and work-life balance in their careers.

During semester breaks, many Gen Z individuals gain firsthand experience in their desired fields, allowing them to experience what it’s like to work in those industries. However, after experiencing a few months of work, some may find that the lack of freedom and flexibility is not aligned with their career aspirations. A news article from Sing Tao Daily highlights that despite the high salary of $50,000, which may be deemed attractive by societal norms, fresh graduates are still deterred from pursuing careers in the big four accounting firms due to their reputation for being stressful and draining. In their pursuit of work-life balance, Gen Z is willing to explore different fields if their original area of work fails to provide the desired flexibility.

Growth Potential and Learning Opportunities

While Gen Z places a heavy emphasis on work-life balance, they are incredibly ambitious and value growth potential in the workplace. According to a Forbes article, many Gen Z individuals perceive industries like manufacturing or construction as limiting their career potential. As a result, they may be hesitant and less enthusiastic about pursuing roles in these fields, viewing them as short-term gigs rather than avenues for long-term growth.

Gen Z’s ambition for continuous learning and growth further reinforces its aversion to industries with limited potential. Recognising the potential limitations on their future growth, many graduates proactively pursue different career paths that offer more promising opportunities. In Hong Kong, for example, the traditional media industry has experienced a decline in popularity, prompting individuals who have studied in that field to seek alternative career options. They often opt to pivot towards adjacent sectors, such as social media management or marketing, which not only provide better prospects for professional advancement but also align with the evolving job market landscape.

As fresh graduates gain a deeper understanding of their chosen field and its growth potential, they may find their initial enthusiasm waning and start to seek new opportunities. They recognise that in today’s ever-changing job market, staying relevant requires a commitment to continuous learning and adaptability. Consequently, Gen Z displays remarkable eagerness to venture into new fields with ample growth potential and learning opportunities, even if it means stepping outside their comfort zones into other fields.

Value Alignment and Social Consciousness

In addition to seeking opportunities, Gen Z is also actively searching for roles that align with their values. According to a Handshake blog, 65% of undergrads would not apply to a job if the employer’s values did not align with theirs. Furthermore, Gen Z strongly favours companies that have a strong social conscience. Over 70% of Gen Z individuals believe it is at least moderately important for their employer to be committed to making a positive impact on ESG issues. This reflects Gen Z’s strong desire to work for companies that engage in meaningful work and contribute positively to the world.

This search for socially conscious companies and roles is driven by the fact that Gen Z is the most socially conscious generation. Gen Z has come of age during a period marked by significant social and environmental challenges, including social inequality, climate change and human rights abuses. Moreover, as digital natives, Gen Z has witnessed the world’s diversity and interconnectedness through their devices, which has shaped their perception of the world.

Over time, individuals may realise that their field of study no longer aligns with their values or that they aspire to work in an industry with greater social awareness. In Hong Kong, several roles have gained popularity among fresh graduates, including sustainability consultants, corporate social responsibility managers, and social entrepreneurs. These roles appeal to them not only due to their potential for financial success but also because they align with their core values. Overall, social impact and personal values tie closely with Gen Z individuals’ job preferences, which may push them to pursue a career outside their field.

Conclusion

Gen Z is poised to become the dominant force in the workplace soon. They prioritize work-life balance, seek growth and value socially conscious roles. As employers, it is vital to embrace these changes rather than fear them. As a member of Gen Z, do not be afraid to make bold career switches if it allows you to be true to yourself and thrive. The phenomenon of fresh graduates choosing to pursue careers outside their field is just one of the many transformations that lie ahead in the future.