We all want the best for our children! As they enter adulthood this typically includes a job that pays well, is fulfilling, and rewarding. What should your child do in college to ensure they achieve this ideal? A successful career exploration process provides insight, experience, and connections that ensure your child identifies and secures a meaningful and successful career. Here’s how you can help…
Far too many students pick a career with little understanding of what it will truly entail. A recent survey of high school seniors showed that 23% chose their career based off a TV show or movie. Young adults need a real and thorough understanding of what an occupation will mean for them. Are jobs in this field prevalent in certain parts of the country/world? Does the profession exist in a variety of industries? What skills are needed and what personality types do well? What are the educational requirements, are their certifications/accreditations required, and how much time and money will that cost? What are the typical advancement opportunities? What industry or economic factors influence this profession/industry? How has the professional changed and how will it change in the coming years?
So encourage your student to do their research! There is great information online and we recommend checking out O*net (onetonline.org). Students also need to get involved with the profession through reading trade magazines, listening to podcasts, attending meet-ups, join associations, and do informational interviews. As students learn about the profession they may learn that it isn’t what they thought it would be. However, if this insight solidifies their decision than they will have great industry knowledge when it comes time to get a job.
Students must get at least one internship! We recommend students intern at least the summer between their junior and senior year. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience in the profession to help them decide if this is the right career for them. 72% of students made minor or significant changes to their major or career choice as a result of their internship experience. Plus they will also build skills that future employers are looking for and connections that will help them in their job search.
Encourage your child to take advantage of fall & winter on-campus internship job fairs as well as seek out opportunities through their career center. Companies are increasingly posting internships on traditional job boards like Indeed.com or Internqueen.com as well.
The world of work is built on who you know. If your child’s career exploration process has included the above recommendations they will have built a strong network of industry contacts. Attending meet-ups, association meetings, conducting informational interviews and internship experiences will provide a robust network of contacts. Help your student learn to build and maintain these relationships by teaching them general networking etiquette including:
- Be responsive, return phone calls or emails within 24 hours.
- Be friendly and professional in all communications. No emojis. No exclamation marks.
- Be prepared to tell their story. When meeting new people they will almost certainly be asked ask about their background and why they are interested in the field, company, job, etc. Students need to be ready with a crisp answer.
- Write a thank you email expressing their appreciation for the contact’s time. Make it personal referencing something from their discussion.
- Connect with the person on LinkedIn after the informational interview.
- Stay in touch! If they see a relevant event, article, or book that the person might be interested in, forwarding that on is a great way to stay in touch. Students should also periodically give the person updates on their job search or when they secure a position.
As your student develops insight, experience and connections they will develop a firm understanding of the occupation they choose as well as build the knowledge, skills and connections they need to secure a great first job out of college. Want more information on how you can support your student throughout the college years? Join us for our “Help Your College Student Find a Meaningful Career” free workshop on November 6, 2017. Get more information and register at http://careerprepsite.com/events
How can you help your student learn to network effectively? Summer is actually a great time to network as business often moves at a slower pace in the summer months and everyone welcomes a chance to get out of the office. Plus, professionals love to help college students who are “home from school”. So, we have 5 things you can do to help your student make the most of the summer by exploring careers and building their professional network.
One: Discuss the power of relationships in your career. Take time to talk about career exploration and networking. Start by telling them the various ways relationships have helped you in your career. Students are told to network but rarely told why. Show them the power of relationships and how networking will impact them personally and professionally.
Two: Admit that it is hard. Emailing a perfect stranger is hard enough not to mention sitting across the table from them. However, students underestimate the length professionals will go to for a young adult who is just starting out. To build their confidence, help them develop their message. Help them craft their story (their elevator pitch) in a compelling way that will not only inform but also engage the contact. Also, share your failures and embarrassing moments. Explain the many reasons they may not hear back from someone so they don’t take it personally.
Three: Help them identify their network. The true power of networking comes from a mutual connection so help them look for these connections within their area of interest. These commonalities will be the initial connecting point and the foundation for the relationship. These can be as simple as fellow college alums, someone that played the same sport they play, someone who interned at the same company, a friend’s parent, or professionals from your network. It will surprise them just how many people they know when they really sit down and think about it.
Four: Walk them through the basics. Students should have a plan for how they will connect in a meaningful way with a new contact, how to craft an introductory email, what questions they are going to ask, the importance of a prompt reply, what to do if the contact doesn’t return their message, and how to maintain that relationship moving forward. Their communication style, message, presentation, how they tell their story, and how they demonstrate gratitude are vital to their success. Have them share their draft communications…you may be surprised! Some of our most intelligent, social students still need a lot of help crafting an appropriate email. If you don’t feel qualified to proof their work then ask a close friend to help.
Five: Motivate your student and make networking a priority by setting a networking goal such as having coffee with five new contacts over the summer. Brainstorm a reward, an extra privilege, or even make a wager over whether they’ll reach their goal. Having a goal and a reward can make networking fun and help your student stay focused.