Challenges of Self-Evaluation
Much like incoming college students, those transferring into the workforce also face a set of shifting expectations. They face entering work cultures that are often quite different from those found on college campuses. They are often hired to do a specific a set of tasks and then find themselves doing a completely different set of tasks. The goals of such tasks are often ambiguous and progress towards their completion is hard to track. While many college students have become used to being evaluated only once or twice a term and had increasing freedom in designing their own projects, most are still used to being graded along the A-F scale that has remained constant throughout their lives. Transferring to a work world, which has no similar or consistent scale and supervisors who are often too busy to evaluate performance regularly can be a huge challenge.
The challenge is not just in dealing with the lack of formal evaluation that often comes with entering the work world but also in recognizing that guidance on how to improve and what to improve upon must often be driven by an internal desire. Entry-level professionals may find themselves reaching plateaus after an initial period of “on the job training” and not knowing how to gauge their own performance or room for improvement. I can speak from personal experience when I say that while it would be much easier and nicer for a supervisor to directly tell me what I should approve upon or what additional responsibilities I should look to take on, this is hardly ever the case. Personally I am still trying to figure out how to deal with this transitional issue and I’ve fairly certain I will continue to struggle with it in the coming years.
Aside from my own struggles, I think that college students, particularly those getting ready to graduate should have more opportunities to create their own learning or work objectives, develop individualized ways to keep track of and regulate their success at meeting those objectives and be able to access their progress periodically. This can happen in the college classroom, but can also be integrated into campus employment opportunities, student government positions, athletics, and student club involvement. As a future supervisor of students (and other alike), I want to encourage self-assessment through regular reviews of personal goals and reflections on progress. I want to promote individual attempts to recognize areas of improvement and provide people with support and resources to engage in self-created plans for growth. I think that the sooner students are exposed to environments where external assessment is minimal and self-assessment is key, the easier the transition to the work world will be.