Surprising Ways Career Planning Offices Prepare Students

Posted by: Dana Sumner, Director, Career Planning

image of building in Raleigh, NC

As you go through the college search process with your daughter, I imagine that one of the most important considerations for you is how well a school prepares graduates for careers. College is a significant investment of money and time – and you want to know that your daughter will be ready for life after college.

A good career planning office provides a range of resources. Two lesser known but incredibly valuable ways we prepare our students for their career path include helping students learn how to “speak the language” of employers, and how to develop a professional network.

First things first

I get excited watching students who take an active and intentional approach to make things happen for themselves. Having worked with students for 17 years, I know that there are some general ways for students to approach the career planning process (and life!) that will increase their likelihood of success. Encourage your student to remember the following as they approach career planning:

  • Seek out and take advantage of all of their resources, on and off campus
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Make the most of all of the opportunities around them
  • Be okay, at least for a bit, to live in the “gray” – and then seek clarity by identifying who you are and options available to you

(Check out this post for more ideas about how your daughter can approach career planning)

Learn to speak the language

When working with students I find it can be difficult for them to talk about who they are, what they’re good at, and how they can bring value or make an impact to an organization, company, or graduate school.

In career planning, we teach students to speak the employer’s or admissions committee’s language. A great way to do that is by demonstrating that they are career ready – meaning as a student and college graduate they are prepared for a successful transition and possess career competencies, including critical thinking, professionalism, global fluency, leadership experience, and communication and technology skills.

When they can talk about their skills and abilities in terms of these competencies then they are aligning what they do with what employers are looking for and want in entry level hires.

Build a strong network

Connections are huge these days. In fact, the percentage of jobs and internships filled through networking is now between 80-85%.

At Meredith we have a strong network of alumnae, employers, parents, and friends who are invested in the success of each student. Our employer partners actively seek Meredith students and graduates for internships and full-time jobs and they educate students on the competencies they seek in the workplace.

Talking with professionals opens up students’ ideas and provides a great way to research opportunities while building their network. LinkedIn provides students with a built-in place to start. In our office, we teach students to conduct tailored searches to discover and connect with Meredith alumnae who are eager to help students any way they can.

Among the many social media sites your student is using, please encourage them to open a LinkedIn account and begin using this resource to see what alumnae/i are doing, where they are working, what they studied, and where they’re living.

In short, the success of career planning depends on both the skill and experience of the career counselor and the commitment of the student to engage fully in the process. When you are visiting colleges, be sure to ask career planning staff about how they will help students demonstrate that they are career ready and build a strong network – two key components of the career planning process.

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