Employers and real estate moguls are using a new tactic to attract recent grads: they're recreating the college campus experience.
Companies know that aggressively recruiting recent college graduates for entry-level roles means:
- They'll have first dibs on new talent;
- They'll have a larger pool of talent to choose from; and
- They won't have to wait for candidates to find their organization.
But appealing to recent grads takes more than boasting the merits of their organization's location or mission—it also means offering them an enticing workplace culture and environment.
The line of thinking goes like this: these grads loved their time in college and are dreading entering the real world. If they see a company offers a similar experience, they'll be more likely to take a job there.
Organizations with college-like environments boast offerings like:
- Report cards;
- Extracurricular activities;
- Structured mentorship programs;
- A "class" of coworkers who are likewise recent grads.
At the health record software company Epic, for instance, employees form board game groups and book clubs. At the consulting firm Bain, groups of first-year employees attend Bain-sponsored social events like ski trips and baseball games.
Google, the company to pioneer this college-like approach, even has its own a cappella groups.
The 10 most popular jobs and companies for last year's grads
Similarly, some urban housing units looking to recruit tenants are replicating the structure of a college residence hall, with shared common rooms and eating areas.
These buildings call themselves "cohousing communities." One of such community in Seattle offers:
- A dining system where everyone takes turns cooking dinner and everyone eats together;
- Individual units designed for interaction;
- A central common house; and
- A central courtyard.
Is copying college a good thing, though?
Opinions are split. Architect Grace Kim says these residence-hall-like living communities serve as an antidote for loneliness and social isolation—which has been found to increase mortality risk by 32%. She told Adele Peters, a staff writer for Fast Company, that when tenants eat together, they wind up planning other activities together and naturally bond with one another. It's a phenomenon that keeps people—especially those that live by themselves—from feeling isolated.
But Caroline Kitchener, author of the book Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College, isn't so sure these merits outweigh the importance of what she calls "growing up."
Also see: Resilience isn't just for students—adults need to work on it too
When students graduate college and enter the real world, Kitchener argues the adjustment period is an important part of maturing. Without the structured extracurricular activities and events college offered, graduates are forced to seek social fulfillment themselves. But Kitchener argues that being forced to figure it out on your own is healthier; she says it means you're more likely to make friends who don't work at your organization and, in turn, build better work-life balance (Kitchener, Vox, 4/27; Peters, Fast Company, 4/27).
It may be up for debate in the real world, but in college, living on campus is linked to success
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