Original Research

Managing reality shock: Expectations versus experiences of graduate engineers

Sarah Riordan, Suki Goodman
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 33, No 1 | a259 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v33i1.259 | © 2007 Sarah Riordan, Suki Goodman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 October 2007 | Published: 29 October 2007

About the author(s)

Sarah Riordan, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Suki Goodman, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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The objective of the study is an analysis of the relationship between the work expectations and experiences of graduate engineers during their early career period. It reports on discrepancies in graduates’ expectations of the world of work and the reality of the early career stage. Conclusions include recommendations of how "reality shock" can be managed better by both organisations and individuals. Qualitative data were obtained through in-depth interviews with sixteen participants with less than five years work experience, employed in a large utility organisation in the Western Cape. Results indicate that participants experience significant incongruence between their expectations of work and work experiences.


Managing reality shock; Graduate engineers


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