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Confessions of a mini-adult: how do students view work right now?

Michelle Lei
Career stories
Image of Michelle Lei standing in front of Buckingham Palace in London

How does it feel to be graduating from university in 2024? What do students nowadays perceive the workforce to be like? And are there really a whole different set of expectations and worries amongst Gen Z…?

To find out, we asked our intern Michelle Lei, a final year student at the University of California, Irvine, who’s about to enter the next stage of her life.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Michelle Lei and I am in my final year of a business administration degree, emphasising in marketing, management, and information systems, at University of California, Irvine.

I’ve already landed my first job, as a business technology solutions analyst at Deloitte Consulting starting in the autumn, and I’m currently studying abroad in London, where I’m also interning at Voco!

I am passionate about entrepreneurship, personal development, and modern art. In my free time, I love trying new cafes (still trying to figure out my perfect coffee and pastry order), taking a billion photos of every new place I visit, and going treasure hunting in flea markets. 

What are you looking forward to going into this next stage of your life?

I am looking forward to moving out of my shoebox college apartment and getting a couch that isn’t lumpy!

On a more serious note, I am very excited to meet new people from my work and travels, absorb as much knowledge as possible from my career, and hopefully find a hobby that actually sticks.

And what are you worried about?

I am terrified of feeling alone in the workplace with no one to turn to professionally. 

Many of my peers and I are in this discovery phase where we’re still figuring out what we want to do and what interests us, and taking that challenge on by yourself is daunting.

It’s much easier when you’re in an environment where you’re surrounded by everyone going through those same struggles as in college, but there’s a sense of realness once you’re out of that environment that triggers your fight-or-flight instincts. 

In this case, I know that being out of my comfort zone will push me to put myself out there more in terms of networking but I wish there were more accessible resources for post-grads to connect and build relationships with.

I’m also scared of not liking what I do and not knowing what to do about it.

What do you think work will be like?

Going into my role, I think will be a very harsh reality check of being told what to do and losing a lot of the freedom I have in college. But in exchange, I will get many opportunities to grow my skills, challenge myself, and discover my true priorities.

What don’t you know about the workforce?

I’m not sure how people make work friends and how accurate of a picture TV shows like Suits paints of office politics. Hopefully, it’s not actually like that! 

I’ve also heard some adults don’t have much of a work-life balance and I wonder how it gets that way. I think people my age, about to embark on their careers, are much more focused on establishing our boundaries around work than those that have come before us. I guess I’ll find out if it’s true when  I start my role at Deloitte in a few months!

Voco has partnered with with Accent Global to provide a 10-week internship for Michelle to gain experience within a start-up environment as part of her study abroad programme.

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