Anticipatory Organizational Socialization: Graduating College Students' Messages, Information-Seeking, Career Conceptualizations, and Expectations
Carver, Christy Leilani Jensen
University of Kansas
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This qualitative study explored how traditional, graduating college students at a Midwestern public university described their anticipatory socialization processes regarding post- collegiate, organizational work. Specifically, the current study investigated participant reports of: 1) messages received; 2) information-seeking behaviors and tactics regarding work; 3) conceptualizations of the term career and the colloquialism a real job; and, 4) expectations about work in the current economic climate. Findings indicated that all participants communicated the message that the priority for post-collegiate work is the intrinsic value of work that is enjoyable, fun, and/or that work should be something they liked, loved, or were passionate about. This overarching concept of work was reported as the most prevalent message, work value, and work expectation in the study. In terms of information seeking, over half of the participants reported that their primary sources of information about work were college classes and the Internet. Participants stated that they expected to find a professional job soon after graduation, although this expectation remained unmet for the majority of participants. They attributed their unemployment largely to the economic downturn. Furthermore, their expectations for work and career as enjoyable or something that they liked or loved were also described as unmet. In addition, while participants reported anticipatory organizational socialization processes as teaching them about professional work, as suggested by previous research, they also unexpectedly framed these processes as contributing towards their own conclusions of what they did NOT want regarding professional work and career. Moreover, participant accounts reflect a gap between conflicting tacit and explicit socialization messages and expectations. The participants' expectation for work they love aligns with generational descriptions in the popular press that suggest that Millennials lack realistic work expectations and are having difficulty transitioning to work. Previous research has suggested that unmet expectations lead to rocky transitions and are detrimental to both the individuals themselves and the organizations they join (Greenhaus, Seidel, & Marinis, 1983; Wanous, Poland, Remack, & Davis, 1992; Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers, 1991). This study contributes to scholarship that investigates anticipatory organizational socialization processes and seeks to further understand college graduates' transition from college to work.
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