5 Tips for Students Making Career Decisions

Some individuals seem to have known from the time they were 5 years old what they wanted to be “when they grow up.”  Others seem to struggle their whole lives.  So here are a few tips to help you navigate the question whether you are in high school or college:

  1. Pay attention to the classes you really like in school.  They are often an indicator to your natural talents.
  2. Volunteering and part-time jobs can help you better understand what you want to do more of or never want to do again in your lifetime!
  3. Ask yourself these two questions, “What is my passion?  Do I want it to be my life’s work or part of the balance in my life?”
  4. Career shadow someone in the fields of work that you have interests.
  5. Understand the job market for your intended career expertise.

There is no magic wand to wave or ruby slippers to click together to figure out your career path and find satisfaction.  But there are steps you can take to move you in the right direction!  These five tips are part of a process.  This process combined with The Highlands Ability Battery can provide information and options for achieving career satisfaction.  Want to find out how your natural abilities link with career options?  Contact me.

So Incredibly Awesome

Have you ever been to a party, restaurant or buffet where you felt so overwhelmed by all of the incredible choices you simply had no idea where to begin? Do you have a favorite store like Bass Pro, Apple, Nordstrom or Barnes and Noble filled with those things you love to browse?  Do you usually begin your meandering through that place with a plan that includes some random wandering coupled with a distinct methodology so you don’t miss anything?

That’s how I feel about the new Highlands Ability Battery Career Exploration tool. It is so incredibly awesome!  When you take the assessment, your data gets linked to careers that are a good match for your natural abilities and provides an amazing array of opportunities to be explored. That array includes everything from careers right out of high school to careers requiring a PhD.  Perhaps you want a career with hands-on experiences but you don’t want 4 years of college, what’s available and a good match?

In my career as an educator I have watched the educational pendulum swing from promoting vocational education to dismantling vocational programs and promoting college for everyone. Now we hear STEM, STEAM and all the hype of the pendulum swinging yet again.  The reality is that neither vocational training nor college education is for everyone, but everyone has a place and everyone needs to be prepared to take the next step.  But it requires purposeful thinking and purposeful actions.

Having a career or multiple careers that you truly enjoy is so incredibly awesome. Are you ready to take the next step?  Contact me.

Finding Job Satisfaction

Have you ever felt you were going down the wrong path, maybe weren’t sure where the path was to start with, or maybe you got to the end of the path and said, “Is that all there is?” Life is way too short to not enjoy what you do in your chosen career.  It scares me when I read articles or research that reflect numbers of 50-65% of the population reporting they are disappointed in their career choice or feel that their work is not utilizing their talents.

Finding jobs over the last several years has posed a challenge, but jobs are out there and they run the gambit of requiring technical school training, certification programs, college or advanced degrees. There truly is something for everyone, but not everyone does their homework to figure out their best path.

Finding job satisfaction requires a bit of work. You have to pay attention to what you like and don’t like to do both in your class time or work hours as well as in those hours when you can spend your time doing anything you want. What makes you tick?  What turns you off?  Are you passionate about something and want to incorporate it in your work or do you want to keep it separate?  What are your Natural Abilities?  Did you know they are measureable?

Job satisfaction includes doing what you are good at, being valued by those you work with and for.  It includes doing what you enjoy and feeling that compensation is in line with the job and others in similar jobs.  Satisfaction includes lots of things including your quality of life.  Does your job satisfaction measure up?

Need help figuring it out? Click here to Contact Me.

It’s All About Perspective

As high school students and parents as well as some college students consider their next year of school or the path of a career, it’s important to think strategically about the investment in a college degree or technical school. After all, they are businesses.  While they intend to educate and provide opportunities for future employment and lifestyle, the reality is they must stay competitive to keep the doors open.  That means they must run it like a business, big business.

Recently The Wall Street Journal  interviewed Brian Casey, President of DePauw University in Indiana, a well ranked liberal arts institution. While he is talking about the importance of liberal arts education in today’s job market, he is also addressing the university’s need to remain competitive using a variety of recruitment strategies.  They are two different perspectives for promoting an institution or business and both are important to their survival.  But what perspective is most important to you?

When you think about your own strategy for being competitive in a job market, a college market and career path, it’s your perspective that is most important.  After all, they are your dollars going into their business.  Whether a liberal arts background, specific university program or technical school are best for you depends on many factors.  But rest assured they will all do their best to sell you on their institution.  So make sure you do your homework.

Need help navigating the college admissions process? Contact me

Need help figuring out your career path? Contact me.

Either way, click here to read the article and be more informed.

Connections for Future Career Opportunties

So fre­quently when I do pre­sen­ta­tions for schools or orga­ni­za­tions, I get asked, “When should we start think­ing about careers?”  My answer is always, “The sooner the bet­ter.”  You see, it’s not that you have to decide what you want to do “when you grow up” but rather you need to explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties and expe­ri­ence the things you want to learn more about or dis­cover things you never imagined doing in your life!  How can you use your nat­ural abil­i­ties, pas­sions, inter­ests and skills now to set your­self up for success? How can you determine the best fit college program or major if you don’t do your homework?

College and High School Students:

  • part time jobs can pay bills and provide spending money, but they also provide insight for future directions and create a network for future connections
  • volunteering provides connection with a passion, an opportunity to explore potential opportunities for employment, and a network for future connections
  • internships both paid and unpaid provide insight for future directions and potential future employment….and a network for future connections
  • part time jobs, volunteering, paid and unpaid internships are great resume’ material…and provide a host of future networking opportunities

My mes­sage,  get out there and get those volunteering, internship/externship, or part time work expe­ri­ences!  Click here to check out just one exam­ple of some ter­rific high school stu­dents get­ting great expe­ri­ences through a won­der­ful pro­gram.  These guys are going to be pre­pared to declare a major and to make dreams hap­pen!  There is an old say­ing, ” There are three kinds of peo­ple, those who watch what hap­pens, those who make things hap­pen, and those who won­der what hap­pened.”  Which one are you?

Need help making it happen?  Click here to Contact Me.

 

Considerations for Choosing or Reevaluating a College Major

1 – Family Influence – Parents and family members influence our considerations for college, advanced degrees and career outcomes.  Their involvement and discussions may or may not support specific areas of study the student finds of interest.  The work done by parents or extended family members may set an expectation for the college student and therefore the selection of a college major is predetermined by family dynamics.   Knowing where family influence comes from can support an open range of major areas of study or it can create an expectation that may or may not fit.

2 – Media Impact – Television programs like CSI, The Closer, have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science.  However, enjoying a television program doesn’t make it a good career fit.  Understanding the requirements of the courses and the potential career opportunities that are related to these courses can help in determining a good fit and major area of study.

3 – Values – Knowing yourself and what you value is an important factor in choosing a major area of study.  Whether it is time management, making a difference for others, religion, recognition, physical challenges or spending time with family or friends, these and many others are key factors in considering career directions and major areas of study.

4 – Interests – Interest surveys are great tools for beginning a process of determining career direction and major areas of study.  Because interests can change due to our experiences, it is good to take them periodically.  While interests may shift, you may also find a trend develops with one or two.

5 – Natural Abilities – Natural Abilities are the way in which we are hardwired.  Like our fingerprints, they are part of who we are and they do not change.  They appear as the things we do naturally and easily.  They impact the way we learn, interact with others, the environment we feel most comfortable at work.  Natural abilities are driving forces within each of us and can be capitalized on for maximum performance and satisfaction or we can work against them and question why we are not as happy in our chosen careers.  Natural Abilities are measureable so ask me how to get it done!

6 – Goals – Having clearly defined goals can help in choosing college majors.  Do your goals require 4 years or 8 years of school?  Do you have a financial plan to support those goals?  Will the outcome of your major area of study provide career opportunities based on labor trends, where you choose to live and your social or cultural expectations?  Clearly defined goals along with a financial plan will assist in meeting the challenges of completing an “on time” degree as well as reduce potential costs associated with changing majors and prolonged graduation dates.   Talk with your financial planner to assess your own college and fiscal needs.  I can help with the college and career pieces.

Owning Your Future

It’s back to school for high school and college students.  But they are not the only group that need to think about “back to school”.  All career professionals should be thinking about increasing their own value in the work place.  Generally speaking, there are sectors of the work world that refer to continuing your education or training for licensing as Professional Development or Continuing Education Units (CEU).

  • Physicians and nurses
  • Attorneys
  • Massage Therapists
  • Teachers and Administrators
  • Realtors and CPA’s

This list is certainly not complete, but you get the idea.  Some professions require that within a determined number of years, you are required to participate in classes or conferences in an effort to keep current in your field.  Some industries pay for their employees to attend these conferences or courses while others leave it up to the individual.  The important point here is WHY would you leave it up to someone else?

In a changing economic market it makes it more challenging for individuals to quantify their value to a company, but it pays dividends if you invest in yourself.  Firms, companies and organizations have scaled back their resources to cover the costs associated with on-going training for employees, but the value of you investing in you is enormous!  It not only increases your own intellectual value, but it elevates the employer’s perception of you as an individual and your willingness to increase your own potential.

Making decisions about college and career is never easy.  But there are things you can do to make it an easier process and a fun journey.

High school students….find a way to career shadow or volunteer!

College students….you too can volunteer, shadow or intern in an unpaid experience!

Returning to the workforce….take a class, shadow a friend, volunteer, FIND YOUR PASSION!

Most important, Own Your Future!

Need help figuring it out, click here to contact me!

You – In 30 seconds!

If you walked into an elevator, the door closed and you found yourself next to a college recruiter, coach or potential employer and had 30 seconds to promote yourself, what would you say?  When the door opens and they walk away, what would you have said that makes you memorable enough that they want to know more?

For those of you graduating college now or even those of you who are getting close, the old “Elevator Speech” is a business technique that has been used for decades, but it is still effective.  In fact, for young people who have less experience promoting themselves to future employers or college admissions offices, it is a great way to collect your thoughts ahead of time so that when opportunity strikes, you’re prepared.  I find that when young people are asked to, “Tell me a little about your self,” they get caught like deer in headlights or ramble with no impressive points.

Promote yourself by being prepared.  What will you say in 30 seconds that will leave them wanting more?  How do you project yourself as different from the rest of the pack.  What makes you different?

Most of the college graduates who are hired within the first 3 months of graduation are hired through their internship experience and contacts.  According to a recent posting on “The Ladders”, as of April, 17% of graduating seniors reported they had secured employment for post graduation.  In a tough market, that leaves a lot of you still out there looking.  So be prepared and work your network!

Summer – Jobs – Opportunity

Whether your summer begins May 10th , June 7th or June 21st, the landslide of summer workers/participants will hit in full force.  You need to be prepared to submit applications and do interviews before everyone else.  So work backwards.  Identify your target date for starting work and work backward with your plan.  You will need time for interviews, phone calls, application completion, Internet or local searches and networking.  That means you start now mapping a summer plan.

There are some terrific web tools for identifying summer employers as well as tips for effective interviews.  Here are just a few:

www.quintcareers.com                Great for searching College Internship Opportunities

www.getthatgig.com                     Opportunities for students 16-21 years

www.teenjobsection.com          Interactive map of opportunities across the country

www.snagajob.com                       Getting and making the most of your job

The important thing about starting now is you begin looking at the opportunities.  And opportunities do not apply only to work.  Opportunities may refer to athletic team participation, experiences or internships.  What would you like to do?  Are there jobs/opportunities you are particularly interested in doing and things you just would not consider?  What transportation barriers exist or what options are available if a good opportunity presents itself?  How many hours a day will you be available to work/play/volunteer?  Is summer class part of the equation when figuring schedules for work?  Different employers will embrace your availability as a summer worker and as a student working to get ahead.  Others may find value in your performance and embrace the opportunity that you may be available for the next few seasons.  The here and now impacts tomorrow!

By starting your search now, you have some time to explore options and activate a network.  Just like business people network to expand and strengthen their own client base, students can network to find great summer opportunities through parents, relatives and family friends.  Now is the time to get started!

Finding the Balance

 

As a child or even teen, our parents help us define the balance in our lives.  But once we head off to school or out into the world of work, that balance becomes our responsibility. 

 

Once upon a time our balance was structured around our need to eat, sleep and get our daily dose of exercise, but……notice that word came up again, life got a little more demanding and the balance included homework.  On we went into the world of high school, college and eventually work.  At every step along the way, life brought new opportunities, more challenges and greater need for balance.  But, those increased responsibilities, opportunities and challenges undermined our attempts at balance and in some cases, they may even remove balance from our radar.

 

What are the “buts” impeding your balance?  After all, having balance in our lives helps influence our sense of satisfaction and success.  For some, balance includes a calm and blissful state brought on by organization and rhythm in life.  For others it is a constant stream of thoughts, actions and involvements that keep one in motion.  What is balance for you?  What is getting in the way?  What “but” can you address in your daily routine and use to assist in finding your balance?