How Are You Developing You?

07_12_10-10-Rules-for-Beginning-Your-New-Job-on-the-Right-FootI know that sometimes it’s easy to get complacent in the roles that we choose, however I want to encourage you to consider: “If I were to lose this job today, what other positions am I capable of assuming?”  An unpleasant thought I know, but one that I hope will assist you in evaluating your skills, knowledge and abilities as they relate to the demands of the job market.  Are the skills, knowledge and abilities that you possess transferable to a viable position that will offer similar or greater compensation?  If they are not consider pursuing opportunities for enhancing these areas.

The good new is you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to acquire new skills.  Sometimes it’s as simply as reading a book or industry publications.  You can volunteer your time to an organization and use your volunteerism as a platform to grow in your target areas.  Check out your local library and see  if there are any courses being offered and of course you can always check out the books and teach yourself something new.  If you are willing  and able to expend  financial resources take a look at what classes are being offered at your local community college.  Always consider the importance of developing yourself for the purpose of remaining a candidate of choice.

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8 Semesters, Not Four Years

Think in terms of semesters, not years

Four years sounds like a long time.  8 semesters  sounds far more fleeting.  8 semesters give or take one or two additional semesters is the amount of time that  the majority of college students have. You want to spend this time creating experiences for yourself that you can add to your resume and  discuss during the job interview.   There are far too many activities, clubs and programs at most schools for you to spend that time just going to class.  It is your responsibility to use that time wisely.  In many ways that means you will develop yourself holistically into a candidate that employers will want to hire.  Dont’ waste time by thinking that you have alot of time. You will learn soon that those 8 semesters go by very quickly. Spend the time you do have getting most of your college experience.  This means getting involved in ways that are meaningful.

Parents Get Your Student Ready

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I know it may seem premature but if you have a child enrolling in or returning to a  college or university this fall please encourage them to begin thinking about their careers while they are still in school. Many people mistakenly believe the time to seek full time employment is when the child graduates however for many students that may be too late. Employers typically want students with structured internship experience. These experiences are often acquired while the student is studying. It is imperative to your child’s career development that you engage them early in their college career about occupations they would like to pursue and skills knowlege and abilities required.

Ask your student the following questions to prompt a converstion or get them to begining thinking about their potential careers:

1. In what industry do you have an interest? ( An industry is a group of businesses that provide a particular product or service. For example retail, banking, health care and entertainment).

2. When will you visit your school’s career services office?

3. Have you taken any career assessments to give you some idea of what occupations that may be ideal for you?

4.  On  what dates will your school host career fairs?

5.  How many company  information sessions will you attend on campus?

6. Which skills do you see yourself using at work on a daily basis (Skills are developed aptitudes or abilities)?

7. Have you looked into the job market’s demand for the careers in which you have an interest? Are you comfortable with the salaries for those occupations?
Will that salary provide you with the lifestyle you wish to live? Will that salary cover your student loans?

8. Will you take the steps that are necessary to find an internship before you graduate?

9. Are there any activitites on campus that will assist you in developing the skills employers find valuable?

10. Have you had a practice interview?

11. Are you working on your resume?

These questions will never fully replace the dynamic conversation you should have with your student,  but I do hope that they will give you a few suggestions on how to best to discuss this issue with your child. The earlier we have these conversation the sooner the student will begin to make connections between their studies and their first job after college.

Can I Bring My Mom And Dad?

Helicopter-ParentingI find it strange how young adults who are over 18 want to invite their parents to meetings with higher education administration.  Is this appropriate? Or am I just old school?  We’ve heard of the rise of helicopter parents who think they are helping but I think this may be to the detriment of the child. Sometimes students will say “My parents pay my tuition and they believe they should be included”, while this may be accurate I wonder how helpful it is for the student’s personal development for parents or guardians to speak to administrators on behalf of their children.

At times parents support or promote clear violations of policies or guidelines that are in place and they believe they are entitled to do so because they “pay an administrators salary”. I’ve heard stories of parents secretly signing offer letters on behalf of their children, advising a child to withdraw from an interview without sufficient notice (same day) or to accept offers only to renege at later date when something better comes along. I can appreciate a parent advocating on behalf of their child especially in instances of unfair treatment but at what point does a parent move out of the way and allow a child to make decisions about their own lives? Does the child have to be 18, 21 or 44? Where does directing and supporting your child end and enabling bad behavior begin?

Create Your Own Opportunity

Courtesy of SundaySchoolLeader.com

Courtesy of SundaySchoolLeader.com

Do you have an interest  in a particular profession or industry and you are unsure of  exactly how to gain exposure to this area?  I would like to suggest that you create an externship.  An externship  usually lasts between 1 day and 1 week.  It’s  an opportunity to shadow a business professional and/ or observe their work environment. It is also a way for employers to get a preview of  how you would function within their company while providing you some exposure to a particular field of interest. Some times companies offer structured externship programs and other times they don’t.  If you are interested in a particular company or industry I’d like to invite you to create your own externship, don’t wait for an employer to offer one to you.  Determine the industry that you would like to work. Research companies in that field.  Locate the appropriate HR representative and/ or hiring manager.  Explain to them that you would like an opportunity to observe the nature of the profession or the work that is being performed in order to  gain some insight as to whether or not the industry or career is an ideal fit for you.   Create an outline of the job functions that you would like to see performed. Some companies will agree and others will not, however this is a useful tool for learning directly from professionals in the field.  It is also a great way to develop your personal contact network while demonstrating that you are proactive about your professional development.