As the spring semester progresses, across SA, we often hear our students expressing nervousness about their futures and upcoming summers. They frequently worry about finding a summer job, internship, or a full time job after graduation. As advisors, supervisors, and mentors for many students, you’re actually able to help and support students in their career readiness. You’ve built the trust with students on a personal level, and therefore can help. Not all students will go to their career center because many feel intimidated by the professional atmosphere. (Which is a subject for another blog post!)
I often hear my colleagues and campus partners outside of career services give the advice of “go to the career center and get your resume reviewed” when their students are expressing career concerns. Resumes are an important part of the job search. But career development is so much more than a resume review. Below are three easy ways you can help your students, individually or in groups, to take some ownership over their job or internship search.
Encourage networking and information interviews.
In today’s workplace, students find most jobs through networking as the “known candidate,” as opposed to applying online. This concept can be very stressful and challenging for students who aren’t used to this type of relationship management. You can help your students overcome this challenge by helping them first identify potential connections. Brainstorm topics they might talk about in an informational interview, and places they might go to meet people. You can even practice holding an informational interview with them to help relieve some of their nerves.
Clarify the student’s actual career goal.
It’s important for students to have a direction for their job search in order to identify potentially helpful networking connections. When students begin making connections, they’ll likely be asked about their career goals or why they’re seeking a certain job. Talk with students about careers they are considering or what they would like to see in their future position. As a result, you can help create more focus to their job search.
Connect current experiences to future positions.
Often, I hear students express concerns that they aren’t qualified for a position or that they don’t have work experience. Meanwhile, they are involved on campus and have many transferable skills needed for a position. You can therefore help your students in their career development by encouraging them to identify their transferable skills. These skills come from their experience with your office or other connections on campus.
Referring students to their career center is a great practice. But, sometimes, in a moment of stress, students need some immediate support from a trusting mentor. My hope for the future is that higher education institutions adopt a culture of career readiness where everyone plays a role in students’ career development. Hopefully, these three strategies are a starting point for future conversations with students about career readiness.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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