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.

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?

 

Imagine How Great!

Imagine how great it feels when you accomplish something you didn’t think you could.  Franklin Roosevelt said, ” Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

The task of searching for colleges, making a choice of career paths or college majors, or even changing direction once you have gone down a path, can be overwhelming.  So break it down.  Create a calendar with a reasonable end point for making a decision.  Work backward creating identified tasks that will lead you to that endpoint.  Be sure to have checkpoints so you can measure your progress along the way.  Remember, there is satisfaction or “thrill” in creative effort….your plan.  There is “Happiness” in the “joy of achievement” and making that decision.  So, enjoy the process.  Learn, grow, achieve!

Need help breaking it down?  Contact me

Be Aware and Be Proactive with Your Social Media

With everyone either back to school or getting there immediately after Labor Day, this is a great time to remind all students, college and high school, YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE FOLLOWS YOU.  No. I am not shouting at you in text format, but I am making a point.  If you (or your friends) blog it, post it on Facetime, Twitter, Instagram, or any social network, you are vulnerable to future employers, mortgage officers and credit opportunities, college admissions, and the list goes on.  Be aware and be proactive.

How many hours a month do you spend on the Internet?  How much time are you using it for education, entertainment, work, purchasing services or products, or connecting with friends and family?  The average American spends 32 hours per month on the Internet.  A tidbit I learned on a webinar hosted by Juicy Results, a terrific web marketing company.   And as I thought about that number, I realized I spend that much time per week and more on the Internet!  If the nature of jobs and careers in the future is changing, then this is important information to know.

Do you have a social media presence?  What does it look like?  Universities and employers alike are using social media to “check out” their candidates.  Everything from your email address and voice message to your pictures and comments on the Internet are available for public scrutiny and feed into your public image or “social entity.”

Just as different people have different perspectives on issues, different generations view and address issues differently.  In regards to social media, there is a great article and some interesting data that specifically address the issues of school and job impact.  Click here to read the article and be sure to scroll down to table 2B and note the difference between Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers.  While an Echo Boomer may see nothing wrong with a particular message posted on a social media site, the individual responsible for your admission to college or hiring you may be a Baby Boomer and the posting is offensive.

Now ask yourself the question again and consider who may be on the other side of the computer monitor checking you out.  What does your “social entity” look like?  What do you need to do to create the kind of social image that characterizes you but doesn’t jeopardize future opportunities?  Contact me if you need assistance or want more information.

Making Good College and Career Decisions

Have you ever noticed how much time, focused energy, and money goes in to preparing to take the SAT, ACT or a re-test to get a better score?  So much of it is driven by the desire to have qualifying scores for a specific university or college of choice.  Imagine the hours invested in AP or IB courses for the purpose of positioning one’s self for that perfect college.  In making the selection to take a prep course for these tests, students and parents use their network of other students and parents to get recommendations for individual tutors or organizations.  They go on-line and search options.  So much effort and resource is spent on this one piece of preparing for college and the bigger picture of a career direction becomes a second priority or maybe third or fourth.

With the national average being six years to get a four year degree, the indicators point to students not being prepared to make a decision about their career direction and therefore the result is greater use of personal resources or student loans and lost earning potential.  That’s not to say that students can’t change their mind about a career major, once they are in college, but they can make informed decisions that use both their time and their resources wisely and reduce the potential of increased time to get a bachelors degree and increase the likelihood that they will be happy with their career choice.

Making informed decisions means collecting the best possible information in multiple directions.  In order to do that with a career decision, the information needs to include personal interests, an assessment of values, an inventory of skills and a quantified measure of natural abilities.  If there are influencing factors like family legacies or expectations, those need to be addressed as well.

Don’t be paralyzed by indecision.  Collect the information, assess your situation and goals, and if you need assistance, contact me.  I can help you determine your best direction!

“Deep Dish” Decision Making – College Acceptances

It’s time.  For those of you who are high school seniors or parents of those students, or juniors in the preparation mode, this blog is for you.  It’s decision time.  Now for seniors or soon for juniors, the same information will apply, so take note.

The previous blog posting was about the 6 Considerations for College Majors.  Those are great guides for thinking about where you want to go to school and what you want to study.  They help to narrow the field.  But now, you’ve sent out those applications and the letters of acceptance are being delivered.  How will you choose?  Will you fall into the trap of going where your best friend goes, lots of peers or school name recognition?  Will you choose because Mom or Dad are promoting because it is their Alma Mater?

Making that “Deep Dish” Decision needs to be well grounded in your best interests.  After all, you’ve spent years deciding whether you prefer deep dish or thin and crispy pizza and whether you like meat lovers toppings or vegetarian.  Buying a $200,000 education is a bit more involved that a $20 pizza.  So devote the time necessary to get it right.  Where do you believe you culturally fit in, socially have opportunities, geographically have independence and manageability, athletically have an opportunity to live out your sports dream or participate in university events, financially can be educated without incurring unreasonable student debt, and academically above all else – where can you get the program that will serve you best?  When it comes down to the final decision, dig deep into the universities offerings of majors to ensure there is a good fit.  When you make a college visit, look at the buildings, the technology and even the methods of course delivery to ensure it is right for you.  Just because an institution offers a major in business doesn’t mean it offers the area of specialty that is right for you.

So for each college you receive an “Acceptance” look deeper and compare them carefully.  Your homework done now will pay off big in securing a four-year, on-time degree in a major you will enjoy and a career path grounded in “Deep Dish” Decision Making.

Six Considerations in Choosing a College Major

The following post has been one of my most frequently referenced and visited blog posts in the past 2 years.  I hope it provides good information for those new to my work, but for those returning, I hope you always get a new little something out of the information or perhaps even a gentle reminder.  Happy 2013!

1 – Family Influence – Throughout our lives, 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, Law and Order, or The Closer have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice.  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.

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.

Great Fit vs.Transfer – 6 Elements for Success

Tune in to any chat with col­lege stu­dents on collegeweeklive.com and you will hear the impor­tance of find­ing the right col­lege fit.  It just makes sense, saves time, saves money, and saves the pain and effort of trans­fer.  Get­ting the right col­lege fit can make all the dif­fer­ence in a great col­lege expe­ri­ence.  Seniors need to evaluate these 6 elements to ensure a great “fit” as they make final decisions for applications and acceptance opportunities.  Juniors need to be considering these same 6 points as they visit campuses.  I was recently asked why I consider a transfer as “painful.”  My response, “Students who are unhappy in their college choice, do not perform as well, spend time seeking the next college, doing the application and waiting process, and lose credits that end up extending a 4 year degree to 5 or 6 years.  The pain is social, academic and financial.”

These 6 characteristics help you identify the best “fit” for a great college experience and avoid the pain of a transfer.

  1. Aca­d­e­mics – be sure the insti­tu­tion has the major area of study in which you have inter­est, abil­ity and desire.
  2. Geo­graphic Loca­tion – con­sider your need to be close or far from home, the travel costs, and cli­mate, urban, sub­ur­ban, and rural.
  3. Cul­tural – how do stu­dents dress, are reli­gious pref­er­ences read­ily avail­able, what about food or dietary options.
  4. Social – are there sport­ing event venues, the­ater, what about fra­ter­ni­ties or soror­i­ties, avail­abil­ity of favorite hob­bies like ski­ing, golf, and cycling or paint ball.
  5. Ath­let­ics – an oppor­tu­nity for you to engage in your sport as a col­lege ath­lete (www.collegesportstrack.com for excel­lent recruit­ing advise­ment) or the venues for you to be a fan
  6. Finan­cial – is it afford­able, what could make it afford­able, what is the earn­ing poten­tial given the degree you are look­ing to attain, does it make the cost worth the investment

Plan ahead and eval­u­ate all of the char­ac­ter­is­tics to ensure a “Great Fit” col­lege experience.

Halloween and Other Scary Times

How perfect to end the month with Halloween and a topic of Scary Times.  If you are a junior or senior in high school or a senior in college you are facing scary times.  There is enough uncertainty in the world to create plenty of anxiety in those who are in pivotal transition points in their lives.

Actually, anyone who is trying to make decisions about college and career direction is facing scary times.  But you can reduce the stress by arming yourself with tools that enhance your decision-making and place yourself in better positions for opportunities.

In a time when information is a key to success, resources can be your most important tools.  Here are some key resources for you to pay attention to regularly:

1.  Athletes in any sport – www.collegesportstrack.com – a terrific resource for understanding the college sports recruiting experience and communicating with coaches to secure your opportunity.  Hans writes a great blog with specific information.  Bookmark it!

2.  College bound students and parents – www.sat.org – a must for registering for the SAT, pacing yourself with a prep program, practicing with their Question of the Day, and they are usually the first indicator of college cost increases.   An underused resource.  Bookmark it!

3.  Anyone thinking about career opportunities – www.bls.gov – a wonderful resource for looking at trends of jobs, sectors of employment and demographic availability of employment.  Another underused resource.  Bookmark it!

Scary times can be made less frightening when armed with effective tools.  Knowing your options, how to manage them and knowing more about yourself enables you to make more effective decisions and capitalize on opportunities.  Need a great resource to learn more about yourself, choosing a college, college major or your career direction?  Contact me.

Planning for a “Great Fit” College Experience

Pick up a copy of US News College Rankings and the back section is usually filled with tips for making sure you get a good college fit.  Tune in to any chat with college students on collegeweeklive.com and you will again hear the importance of finding the right college fit.  It just makes sense, saves time, saves money, and saves the pain and effort of transfer.  Getting the right college fit can make all the difference in a great college experience.  So be sure you pay attention to these 6 characteristics.

  1. Academics – be sure the institution has the major area of study in which you have interest, ability and desire.
  2. Geographic Location – consider your need to be close or far from home, the travel costs, and climate, urban, suburban, and rural.
  3. Cultural – how do students dress, are religious preferences readily available, what about food or dietary options.
  4. Social – are there sporting event venues, theater, what about fraternities or sororities, availability of favorite hobbies like skiing, golf, and cycling or paint ball.
  5. Athletics – an opportunity for you to engage in your sport as a college athlete (www.collegesportstrack.com for excellent recruiting advisement) or the venues for you to be a fan
  6. Financial – is it affordable, what could make it affordable, what is the earning potential given the degree you are looking to attain, does it make the cost worth the investment

Plan ahead and evaluate all of the characteristics to ensure a “Great Fit” college experience.