5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity

Do you click on those internet articles that begin with “10 Things You…” or “The Top 10 Places….”?  I find myself intrigued at times and just have to go for it.  But the truth be told, sometimes all we want is something short and to the point.  So my message this time is for Students…both high school and college.  If you anticipate needing a job or internship for next summer, now is the time to begin making a plan to make connections and get on the radar while you are on Winter Break.  So, here are the 5 Key Steps to Help You Capitalize on Your Opportunity:

  1. Identify where you will or want to be during the summer.  As a high school student that is probably at home, but for college students you may identify a different location.
  2. Identify your area of interest for work experience or an internship in your intended field.
  3. Identify who you know personally in that industry or find out who the industry players are that you don’t know yet.  Key word, yet!
  4. Create your Contact List including name, name of business, email address, phone, physical location and be sure to leave space to make notes of your contact with them and future opportunities.
  5. Identify your available dates and times and take action to set up appointments with those individuals or businesses as soon as your Break begins.

Capitalize on your opportunity to secure a summer job or internship by creating a plan using these 5 Key Steps.  Even if a business isn’t hiring yet it is never too early to develop a relationship with the hiring agent.  That way, you get ahead of the competition, create a relationship with someone who may provide that great opportunity, and you still have plenty of time to enjoy that Winter Break!  Organization using 5 Key Steps = SUCCESS!

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.

 

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!

Excellent Perspective

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about a year ago and they addressed the issue of financing college.  They have run many articles since, but this one was so impressive because they included professionals outside the realm of education or higher education who addressed areas of concern beyond their own “known career” of investment services. In five perspectives of advice to parents from five financial advisors, the first recommendation was, “Encourage your child to select a career first, and then a school.”  One of the advisors interviewed, Greg Gilbert, a financial advisor based in Atlanta, went on to make a statement so similar to what I have blogged about several times over the last couple of years when I encouraged students to seek out internships and volunteer opportunities.  He said, “The key is not just saying ‘Oh, I want to do this,’ but instead, really actively vetting out the [career] idea to see if it’s the right choice.”

Funding a college degree is an enormous commitment.  It can become bigger than expected if it is not managed effectively.  Investing in a career professional may mean spending a little up-front, but it will be a fraction compared to the extended tuition payments made when a four year bachelor degree becomes a 6 year bachelor degree  as a result of a student trying to “find himself” in the process.  Even students who believe they know the direction they want to take can be blindsided when the courses or internships turn out to be vastly different than they expected.

The business of running colleges and universities is big business.  Part of that business is your tuition dollars.  You can choose to make it a four year plan or an extended plan.  So, before you choose that college, make sure you have a career plan and that the college you choose will provide the biggest bang for your buck!  Your action “up front” can reduce extended costs and perhaps your own student loan debt.

Click here to read full article.

Click here to contact me for more information on career paths, colleges or college majors.

 

4 Considerations to Evaluate Summer Needs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”  – Mark Twain

Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are on a path that can provide enormous opportunity and create background experiences that set you up for success.  So, as part of the plan, begin by evaluating your needs.

As a student, there are 4 Needs to consider when planning your summer.  Keep in mind, your plan may include parallel paths to meet these Needs.

1 – Financial Need – Do you need to make money for spending cash or are you in need of making money to be able to make expenses when you return to school?  Do you need to make money to pay for college?  If “financial need” is a primary concern for your summer, then getting started on your pursuit of summer employment is an immediate need given the competition that will be out there.

2 – Experience Need – Experience presents itself in many forms.  It can be an internship, externship, or participation with an organization.  Internships may be with or without pay, but the big payoff is experience with a company that can build toward future employment with them or at least the benefit of learning what you do or don’t want to do in your future.  Participation with an organization may be in the form of an athletic team and building skills and stats toward college or professional opportunities.  Either way, the experience is your primary need.

3 – Volunteer Need – This one is of particular importance to high school students but should not be dismissed by the college student.  Volunteering speaks to your character.  Many high schools require community service as part of their graduation requirements.  Universities look at volunteerism as one element of consideration when admitting students.  Companies look at your community involvement as commitment, community outreach and opportunities to be seen as a positive extension of their own business.  Assess your schedule and your need to increase volunteer capacity.

4 – Education Need – Do you need to take summer courses?  Does your graduation date indicate that you are on track with completing your diploma or degree on-time?  Do you want to get ahead on your timeline?  Assessing your summer needs for education is important for maintaining an “on-time” graduation date.

Evaluate your needs and take action now!  Break it down and break away from the pack!

 

Time Management – Putting You Ahead of the Game

Time management is one of the most critical issues facing college students, so you can’t wait to get there to get it under control.  It is also an imperative for being an effective employee.  If time management is a challenge for you, get a planner/day timer and start using it.  Begin with the end in mind!

College students who are seniors and facing graduation and the workforce in the next 2-3 months, you should be in “full pursuit” of that 1st full time job.  Attending college job fairs on campus or in your local area are good options and are all well underway.  Don’t forget those career-finder websites, but remember that if you use a headhunter service, ask about the fees!

College juniors, you may not be ready to secure that first post-graduation job, but attending job fairs is quite beneficial from the experience perspective.  Get out there and see who is hiring, who might have internships for senior year, and the projections for hiring next year.  Get business cards from those whom you are interested in maintaining contact.  It’s a great way to build a relationship!

High school juniors, do you need to register for the SAT or ACT?  The opportunities are diminishing for this year, so manage your time effectively.  Seniors, many of you are in wait mode and anxious for acceptance letters.  But that doesn’t mean you are on cruise control.  Grades need to stay strong, and if you are undecided about those colleges, be sure to do your homework evaluating the programs at each and making note of potential scholarships once accepted.  Need to connect your natural abilities to a major area of study?  Contact me.

Managing your time can put you ahead of the game, not just in the game.  The competition is steep out there, so begin with the end in mind!  Eye on the prize!

5 Tips for Locating Internships, Externships and Career Shadowing

Internships, externships and career shadowing are great experiences for learning, vetting out what career possibilities make sense to you, and establishing links for future employment.  But I get asked, “What is the difference between internship, externship, and job shadow?”  Typically, externships are much shorter and unpaid.  They can be a couple of days to a few weeks in length and are primarily job shadowing experiences.  The extern is an observer.   A job shadow is typically a one day event and again, the individual is an observer.  However, an internship is usually at least a semester in length and may or may not be a paid position.  The intern is assigned duties that mirror what an employee in the position would be expected to do on a regular basis.

So how do you go about finding these great opportunities?  Here are 5 Tips for locating or creating an internship, externship or career shadow experience:

#1 – Employers of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or any extended family member.  Activate your network!  Remember, it may mean you create the experience on paper and present the proposal.

#2 – Family friends and their businesses

#3 – Businesses you frequent and like their product or service

#4 – City or County government offices

#5 – Quintcareers is a great website with links to tons of opportunities, job skill and interview recommendations as well as a zip code activated link for locating internship opportunities in your desired hometown or college town.  Internmatch is another as is Summerinternships.com

Got a great internship story?  Comment here and generate ideas for others.  Or, if your company hires Interns or promotes shadowing experiences, please share those as well.  It’s all about networking!

Build Your Network

Social media is changing the way we network for career opportunities.  But we can’t forget to develop our in-person networks as well.  This is especially true for high school and college students.  As you think about career directions, this is the time to do some explorations and especially if you are not working during the summer.

Tap into those networks that are closest to you.  Parents and their employers, extended family members and their employers are all great places to begin.  Find out if positions exist within their organizations that you may interest you.  If so, a quick phone call or introduction followed by a couple of questions could well set the stage for an opportunity to spend a few hours or even a week exploring the career options related to the career you shadowed.  By shadowing, you have also extended your own network for future opportunities.

In years past we only heard about networking as a business tool.  No longer!  It is a tool for everyone and students are no exception.  Whether you are building a network of coaches, admissions contacts or career professionals, networking is powerful.  While Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp are all proven social media networking tools, don’t overlook the obvious.  Check out your own family network and the network of businesses and professionals used by your family.  It’s all part of promoting your self.

 

Mapping a Summer Plan

Whether your summer begins May 7th , June 4th or June 25th, 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!