Relation Between College and Job

Since so many students have large college loans, they must be concerned about the employers and jobs that will be available to them when they graduate. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the students who are not burdened with loans are not also concerned with landing good jobs. I’ve said this before, but it still holds true. In the end, most college students only want three things:

1. A good college education

2. An enjoyable college experience

3. A great job when they graduate

Unfortunately, there are colleges that have trouble achieving all three. Some colleges are known for academic excellence. Others offer large numbers of activities, clubs and parties. Only a few have a reputation for having systems in place to ensure that large numbers of students obtain well-paying jobs with desirable employers that will have advancement opportunities.

Until college leaders change their minds and place a greater value on student employment success, they will not change their behavior. Nobody can effectively change their behavior before they change their minds.

Skeptical leaders always resist change. It scares them. Change usually scares us all until we understand it and believe that the change will make things better for us. That is the challenge.

How can college leaders identify and understand the changes that will both result in greater student employment success and make things better for themselves? Money, manpower and time are issues that are always brought up. However, the most important factors are “wanting to make things better” and “looking for and identifying the things that have to be changed.” Colleges that can’t or won’t do one or both of those things will never improve the employment success of their students.

To improve student employment success, colleges must:

1. Recognize that students are quite limited in their knowledge about job search preparation activities and what, how, when and why they should be done.

2. Accept the fact that the college (a learning institution) is where students spend most of their time and where they expect to receive the information, help and guidance they will need for their employment search.

3. Agree that job search preparation instruction and guidance is in large part the responsibility of the college as a whole, not just students and the people in Career Services.

4. Understand that students must compete against other candidates for the best jobs in their fields of interest. Simply having earned a degree with good grades is often not enough.

5. Believe that their college will benefit when larger numbers of students land desirable jobs with respected employers.

To Help Students Find Greater Employment Success, Colleges Should:

6. Help students identify and select a career direction that matches up with their capabilities and interests not later than their sophomore year. When students wait too long to identify a career direction, there may be little or no time left for clearly focused job search preparation activities. Late decisions may also require extra time in college and additional college loans.

7. In the 1st or 2nd year of college, ask students to purchase and read a book that explains the entire employment process, including job search preparation strategies and efforts. Career Services should suggest one.

8. Early on, require students to draft a personal budget for independent living after college. That will make them think about the coming expenses and give them an idea about the minimum starting salary they will require. A sample budget form can be supplied by Career Services, so students can fill in the blanks.

Having a realistic budget, will encourage students to determine two things: 1) Does the selected career direction have desirable entry level jobs that will meet their budget requirements? and, 2) Do those jobs have good growth potential and a career path?

Qualified students should not blindly enter careers and accept employment offers that make it too difficult for them to live on their own and pay back college loans or offer little salary and career growth potential.

9. Help students select a major and minor that will support their career direction and the jobs that are of interest.

10. Help students prepare a written plan of action that includes the activities and experiences they will participate in to make themselves more attractive to their target employers. Colleges can start by providing each student with a generic example of a step-by-step plan.

11. Offer job search preparation classes to students. These classes should cover every aspect of job search preparation, review the contents of the book that has been selected, help students build and utilize their job search network, create a résumé that is focused on accomplishments and successes and also help students develop the stories and examples they will use during interviews.

12. Have each student research and identify a group of jobs in their selected field of interest. (Having a clear target will make the following steps easier for students to achieve.)

13. Have each student research and identify a list of employers that will have opportunities for students with their own job interests. In that way, students can pursue opportunities with the specific employers that are of interest to them. In almost every case, students must chase employers not the reverse.

14. Help students identify the specific things that their target employers will need, want and expect of employment candidates. (Students are more attractive to their target employers when they have prepared for and addressed their needs, wants and expectations.)

15. Help students research, identify and retain lists of Job Banks, Search Firms and Web Sites that can be useful, as they conduct their searches for employment. Students with similar career directions can work together as a team and share their results. (Initial lists for students in every major should be available from Career Services.)

16. Coach and encourage students, as they execute their action plans. Every campus employee can help with this. In fact, everyone in the college community can help with this. However, college Alumni should be ideal for this aspect of job search preparation. That means that the college has to make a special effort to involve successful alumni in this process.

17. Work to build a larger and larger pool of employers that will provide part-time jobs, internships, co-op assignments, work-study programs and summer jobs for students in each and every major. Work experience and job performance are extremely important to interviewers and their hiring employers. Students with job-related work experience, highly rated job performance and solid work references will always attract attention from potential employers.

18. Work to build a larger and larger pool of respected employers that will visit the campus to recruit students. The goal should also be to find and invite a wide variety of employers so some will be interested in students with the less recruited majors. Many colleges are not good at finding employers that are interested in students from the less recruited majors. In fact, on every campus there will be students who don’t have even one campus interview.

19. Develop a long list of employment opportunities for graduating students in every major by requiring everyone who is in any way associated with their institution (College Leaders, Professors, Administrators, Hourly Employees, Students, Parents, Alumni, Suppliers, Vendors, Local Employers and Community Leaders) to use their networks to identify jobs that pay well and have a substantial employee benefits package.

20. Help students pay close attention to their job search preparation activities, job performance and accomplishments. Students must be prepared to compete for the better paying jobs with career potential.

Job offers are not won or lost during interviews. They are earned in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years of college. As students get involved, participate, perform, lead and work, they can take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and add to their list of impressive accomplishments. The best candidates talk about their performance and offer examples during interviews.

21. As students enter their senior year, they should be given multiple opportunities to participate in mock interviews. They will need to practice presenting their selling points, successes and accomplishments. When students tell compelling stories about their college and work experiences and performance, employers will pay attention.

These suggestions will result in a new culture on campus. Students who land great jobs will speak highly of the college and will be better able and more likely to make donations. Furthermore, as high potential applicants learn about the employment successes of your students, they will want to attend your college.

Student employment success is a win-win for students and colleges alike. That’s why colleges should give more consideration to the efforts and services that will result in more and better jobs for their students.

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Factor You Need Consider When Choosing College

As students and parents sift through the many college choices, they use a variety of factors and information to select a college that seems right for their needs and goals. Unfortunately, it is the college Public Relations Department that supplies most of that information. However, there are many additional factors that should be considered, when they are important to student success.

1. Job Search Preparation – Does the college both offer and explain exactly what students can do to make themselves more attractive to potential employers? (Not only grades, but books, web sites, coaching, interviewing and résumé preparation training, lectures, employer tours, campus activities, meetings with alumni in the field, internships and part-time jobs that lead to significant accomplishments, successes, experiences, examples and stories for student résumés and interviews. Each year of college should involve activities that lead to employment success.)

2. Employment Opportunities – During the senior year, does the college do things that will increase a student’s chances for employment success? (Invite employers who are interested in students with each major to conduct interviews on campus? How many actually come for each major? Do they suggest employment web sites that post jobs for students with every major? Do they expect everyone in the entire college community {on and off campus, including parents, current and former students and employees} to help identify a long list of employment opportunities for students in each major?)

Note: Colleges that delegate all of this responsibility to Career Services alone may not be all that concerned with the employment success of every student in every major.

3. Student-Friendly – Being student-friendly involves another group of factors that students and parents should consider.

a) The School Website – Is the college website comprehensive, detailed, easy to navigate and requires little effort to obtain the helpful information desired, including names, titles, locations, descriptions of services, e-mail addresses and phone numbers? (You can check this out from home by searching: Departments associated with a major, the Bookstore, Library, Career Services, Student Newspaper, Radio & TV Station and the Medical Department.)

b) Faculty, Staff & Administrators – Make themselves available and are friendly and helpful – (Student Affairs, Financial Aid, Career Services, etc.) What do current students say?

4. Graduation – What percentage of students graduate in four years? Do college seniors find that the courses they need are readily available, so they can graduate in four years, not four and a half or more?

5. College Leaders – Do college leaders make themselves available to students and demonstrate understanding and concern for student issues?

Do college leaders attend campus events, chat with students, listen to complaints and try to do something about them?

6. Campus Safety and Crime – Since crimes take place on and off every campus, colleges should make crime data, statistics and dangerous locations known to students and parents? Does the college report the sexual assaults and crimes that take place on the campus?

a. Information and Training – Is safety training, crime prevention and personal protection training offered to students? Are students made aware of who can help them, how they can get help and where they can get help, if they are robbed, assaulted, drugged or raped, etc.? During the new student orientation process, are all students made aware of the penalties for committing a crime on campus?

b. Off Campus – How safe is the local community? Does the college work with local shopping areas, parks, theaters, restaurants, bars and nightclubs to help ensure student safety? Are students made aware of the dangerous areas in the town?

c. On-Campus – Assaults including sexual assaults, drug use and drug dealing, theft of goods including money, jewelry, electronics and cars and theft of information for identity theft will exist on every campus. How does the college work to maintain the safety of students? Prevention should be an important part the college’s efforts. What safety measure exist to prevent muggings on campus? Are there plenty of lights, call boxes and escorts?

d. Dorms – Since dorm safety is critical, are there smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire hoses and intercom systems in the dorms? What about a variety of escape routes? How often are intruders and unauthorized visitors found in the dorms and places they do not belong. Are dorm entrances protected and secure?

e. Penalties – Is the college hard or soft on crime? Look for examples of information they communicate to students, the training that takes place and the penalties that are handed out for violations.

7. Facilities – Are the Dorms, Parking, Classrooms, Laboratories, Cafeteria, Bookstore and Library up to the standards expected? a. Consider room size, heating and air conditioning in the dorm, as well as the location, distance from classrooms, cleanliness of restrooms and showers in the dorms. If dorms are Co-Ed, how is that handled?

b. Is there enough parking? How far away? Are parking garages safe and secure?

c. Are classrooms modern and of a size that promotes learning? Will students be able to see, hear and participate?

d. Do laboratories contain the up-to-date equipment that potential employers will expect the student to utilize?

e. The quality and variety of the food offered to students should be considered. Are there other, nearby food establishments available to students? Are meal plans flexible?

f. Is the Campus Bookstore an on-line bookstore? How convenient will it be for students who need staples, pens, highlighters and other small items that often run out?

g. Is the Library an on-line library? How well will this meet student needs for quiet study areas and research? How do students get help when it is needed?

8. Current Student Opinions – After the campus tour is over, wise students and parents should re-visit the dorms, cafeteria, library, gym, bookstore, the quad, classrooms and hallways to talk with current students about the things that concern them. This may be the best way to obtain less biased opinions.

All of these factors come into play, since students will have different needs and experiences. However, the best decisions will be made when useful and credible information is obtained and evaluated.

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