Two days ago on Twitter I saw a link to The Washington Post article, “Starting college? Here’s how to graduate with a job,” by Jim Tankersley.
There were some interesting points presented that I hadn’t thought of. For example the idea that you can no longer, “make good money just by being good at following directions” because of technology replacing those types of jobs.
But for the most part the advice included obvious things: develop strong writing and critical thinking skills, invest in personal branding and be open minded about career paths.
When I say obvious, I mean obvious to me. But I’ve also worked as an ambassador for career services, given resume trainings, gone to many professional development workshops and had my resume looked over by at least half a dozen people,
I’ve invested a lot of time in my career development. And when I talk to my peers or they ask me to look at their resume, I’m a little shocked. The things that have become “obvious” to me, are apparently oblivious to them.
My problem with this article isn’t the advice it gives. It’s great advice. My problem is that it ignores the fact that students shouldn’t need to read this advice from a news outlet. Colleges should be making sure they receive it while they’re on campus.
At least at my university we have a very strong Career Services department. The problem is that most students have never been there or even know where it’s located. Unless you are in a professional school (public health, journalism, business, etc.), your department probably doesn’t offer a lot in the way of professional development.
Again, I’m generalizing based on my own experience. And not every student is going to use the advice even if it is handed to them on a silver platter. But if colleges are going to charge thousands of dollars for an education, they need to be more proactive about incorporating professional development into the college experience.
Why is it that the whole campus receives emails about how to sign up for basketball lottery tickets, but they don’t usually send campus-wide emails about career fairs? If meeting with academic advisers your freshman year is mandatory, why can’t an appointment with career services also be made mandatory? Even if you plan on going to graduate school, there is likely a career services counselor who specializes in that.
Getting a job can be hard, especially if you’ve chosen a major that doesn’t have a clear career path. But it’s a lot easier when you have guidance and know how to market yourself to employers.