Across the country, colleges and universities are deep in preparation for the first day of classes for fall 2016 semester.
Returning students (like my sophomore daughter) have long since realized that summer is over and the school year is about to begin.
Freshmen are nervous, wondering what life as a college student will be like.
Seniors are beginning to contemplate life after college (and many, their student loans).
Parents of soon-to-be graduates are wondering what their blossoming adults are going to do when they graduate, when they are going to be able to get a job, and when they are going to start paying their own bills.
Surely, with all the money they have invested in their college education, these soon-to-be graduates should be able to get jobs, right? That’s the next logical step, isn’t it?
The university is providing the education; it should also provide a direct path to that first job out of college, right?
And that job had better pay enough (regardless of the field) so that they can afford their current lifestyle!
That’s the way it should work, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, unless you pursuing a major that directly tracks into a talent-starved field (engineering, accounting, and many of the other Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) related majors), that’s not usually the way the world works for most students.
Finding a job – particularly a job you will like and one that will match your skills and interests – is a process. Like any process (for example, trying to lose weight or training for a marathon), it requires planning, personal accountability, discipline and focus. In short …
It takes a lot more than “want to” to get a good job after college.
It takes planning and action!
It’s easy to say “I want a good job when I graduate.” It’s hard to define what that means to you. And it takes planning and action to get that job.
Your college career services office can’t get you a job, but they can help you get a job.
As the 2016 academic year gets underway, I want to take this opportunity to share with new and returning college students (and your parents) four things your college career services office can do to assist you in making the transition from the classroom to the workplace.
#1 – Career Services can tell students that job search help is available, but they cannot force them to look for a job.
You’ve heard the old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Well, most college career centers offer a broad range of career services, but they cannot force students to use these services. They offer services that are relevant to students at all stages of their education, so Career Services is relevant to all students.
They are ready to help. All students have to do is ask!
#2 – Career Services can help students explore and evaluate their career options, but they cannot place students into specific jobs.
It sure would be nice (and would certainly be easy) if students could walk into career services just before graduation and choose a job from a variety of opportunities prepared exclusively for them.
Unfortunately, getting a job is not like ordering dinner or shopping for groceries.
By law, career services staff cannot select candidates or make hiring decisions on behalf of employers; employers have to make these hiring decisions themselves, and that means students have to be prepared to apply for jobs and present their qualifications in interviews.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want someone else choosing a job for me any more than I would want someone to arrange my marriage.
I would want to be a part of that process.
#3 – Career Services can reach out to employers, but they cannot force employers to come to campus.
Employers recruit on college campuses only when they need to. If they can generate a sufficient volume of qualified candidates for their job opportunities without physically coming to campus, they usually won’t come to campus.
And, employers that do recruit on college campuses do not typically go to all college campuses, recruit to fill all types of positions, or recruit all majors.
Lastly, on-campus interviewing is not the only tool employers use to recruit entry-level talent from colleges and universities.
As a job seeker, your job is to understand the hiring dynamics of the industries you wish to enter and adjust your job search strategies to these dynamics.
#4 – Career Services can help students identify and pursue jobs that match their skills and interests, but cannot do so if the students won’t identify their skills and interests.
This is the toughest part!
In order to find a job you will like and one that will match your skills, experience and other qualifications, you have to spend some time identifying and articulating your likes and dislikes and your skills and interests.
If you can’t describe your likes and dislikes or identify your skills and interests, how will you be able to know when you find a job that is compatible with them?
By the way – this usually isn’t an easy process, and it does take time …. so, start now! Don’t wait until just before (or after) graduation.
The start of a new school year is full of excitement, energy, uncertainty and hope! There is no place on earth as vibrant as a college campus at the start of the fall semester – everything feels possible; almost everything is possible. There isn’t a better place in the world, IMHO.
Turning possibilities into reality takes work, perseverance and intent. It doesn’t just happen.
Okay, sometimes it does, but people sometimes win the lottery, too! Don’t live your live waiting to win the lottery.