Have you let your students down? Don’t answer too quickly. You probably have. Most colleges come up short in the area that students and their parents care about most. That’s why you should act on the following information.
The one thing that students care about most is graduating from college with a great job. They want to get off on the right foot and launch their careers in a good paying job with a respected employer. Their parents want that too. Parents want to know that their financial sacrifices have paid off. They also want to know that everyone at the college or university has done everything in their power to make that happen. Unfortunately, few colleges are able to harness the energy of their entire college community and point it toward that goal. Your college probably doesn’t either.
You may say that finding a good job is the student’s responsibility. Or, you may believe that it’s the responsibility of the understaffed and underfunded Career Services Office. In effect, you would be saying “It’s not my job.” However, if you think that it is not also your responsibility, you are wrong. In fact, you are so wrong that you would be one of the college leaders and faculty members who is letting your students down badly. Being a college leader, faculty member or administrator should mean that you care about your students so much that you are willing do everything in your power to help them become successful, in every possible way.
To show your concern, you might ask what else you can do to help your students. I’m glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions:
Change The Campus Culture – To maximize the number of seniors who graduate with great jobs, your entire college community (College Leaders, Students, Administrators, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Parents) must all come together to make certain that every student knows where he/she is going, develops a step-by-step plan to get there, obtains campus, work and community experience and receives the training and guidance needed to prepare for and conduct an effective job search. To do that, your campus culture needs to be changed.
Create A Network For Your Students – Every faculty member, campus employee, student, parent and alumna already has a network which can be dramatically expanded, if they try. Those networks have the potential to uncover the critical contacts and job hunting information to ensure that every college senior can significantly increase the number of job interview opportunities they receive. To do that, you will need to harness and capitalize on those networks.
Identify Job Opportunities – Professors, instructors, administrators, parents and alumni don’t get to their positions without having gone to school with or worked with other people in their fields. Those contacts are needed to help students identify job opportunities. Just think! If every faculty member, administrator, campus employee, alumnus and parent identified one job opportunity for your students, nearly every student could find a job. To do that, you will need to bring your campus community together with a clear focus on student job hunting success.
Teach Students How To Prepare – You may not realize that “The senior year job search actually starts in the freshman year.” However, it does! That’s because successful job searches require many hours of preparation. Believe me, there is plenty to do. It’s what your students do during the first three years of college that will determine the level of job hunting success that they achieve. Student preparation activities and accomplishments accumulate semester-by-semester, year-by-year. They simply can’t all be done in the senior year. To help your students do all of that, you must change the way you think and operate.
Help Students Create Their Own Plan – Most students can’t create a viable plan by themselves. They just aren’t good at seeing into the future. That’s where you come in. You can help students identify their goals, figure out what employers expect of them, build a list of accomplishments, improve their leadership, communication and people skills, learn how to conduct an effective job search, develop the necessary job search tools and techniques, draft resumes and sales letters, sharpen their interviewing skills and much more. To do all of that, your students need someone to coach, mentor and guide them through the process of developing their plans. “Students can only succeed to the degree that they are prepared.” Will you help them?
Everyone Must Be Involved – To be successful in changing the culture of your college and the degree to which you help your students prepare for their senior year job searches, you and every member of the campus community must get involved. Are you ready and willing to change the way you operate?
College leaders like to say that their job is to give students a good education. However, exceptional college leaders understand that their students need much more than that. The best leaders do whatever it takes to mobilize and inspire their entire college community, to help make the dreams of their students (land a great job) come true. They know that large, looming college loan obligations with no immediate job prospects can greatly reduce any feelings of pride in having received a good education.
Great faculty, administrators and staff members do more too. Through their words and actions, they make it clear to everyone that they are part of the solution. Their active involvement in student planning activities, student coaching and guidance, student participation, network building, summer, part-time and full time job identification, and training or guiding students in job search techniques leaves no doubt where they stand on this issue.
If panicked students are begging your Career Services personnel for help during their senior year, something is seriously wrong with the way your college prepares students for their senior year job search. It means that you and your college have let your students down. Therefore, you should ask yourself three questions: “Are you going to let your students down again next year?” “Will you help move your college toward the new culture?” “Or, will you continue to say, ‘That’s not my job.'”?