Young adults are faced with many challenges, changes, demands and decisions as they grow up and become young adults. Emerging adulthood is a distinctive period of change, development and a foundation for future achievements, goals and occupation decisions. This era is marked by certain biological changes, changes in social roles, individual and psychological change, as well as legal changes. This period of adult development, plus young adults’ first experiences in the work place signifies a period of often dramatic change into adulthood, combined with life and career goal alignment.
The paradigm for the research is that South Africa is no different to the rest of the world; young adults are faced with the same challenges and demands as they move from a relative place of comfort in a University setting, to a very different setting in a commercial environment. In order to break down the complexity of this paradigm, the researcher viewed the changes and the challenges that accompany it, as a good opportunity for research. The transition from the world of academia to the world of work is one that seems to have a material impact on young adults. As such, this provides an opportunity for research, and this paper delves into the challenges and demands on young adults, looking at what impacts them the most. The research was conducted by way of semi-structured interviews and was led by the researcher on a one-on-one basis with recently hired graduates (2007) as the participants, in a Financial Services firm in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The participants’ age group ranged from 21 to 29 years of age and were from various cultures and race groups. The semi-structured interview contained a range of questions which included a number of key words that were used to probe the participants view and insight into what the psychological stressors were for them personally, including emotional, physiological and mental stressors. The resultant information was that overall, young graduates felt significant stress and pressure, which was made up of various factors culminating in psychological impact. The semi-structured interview further explored various potential stressors like the organisation’s culture, company choice, earning potential, expectation and transition; overall the psychological effect of transition from an academic environment to a working environment had the greatest effect on the participants in this research process.