Helpful Tips for College and Career Readiness
If you don’t like your 8:30 class on Monday morning, you are going to hate your job at 8:30 on Monday morning. And your job is going to last a heck of a lot longer.
That’s why John Strelecky says career decisions should be in line with your interests—not necessarily with the hottest new career in the field. “You have to find a heart connection to a job,” says Strelecky, author of The Why Café. And if you don’t have that connection, “you’re just trading time for money. That’s a sad future,” he adds. How are you starting your college and career readiness?
Consider this: 30 percent of entering college freshmen drop-out; the average completion of a college degree now takes six years; and 64 percent of employees under the age of 25 are unhappy in their jobs. These are sad statistics. So how do you ensure you don’t become another sad figure? Find the right fit.
College and Career Readiness: What’s your fit?
Both college and career readiness begin with finding the right fit. How do you decide on a career that’s in line with your passion? Jim Beqaj, a recruiting consultant, career coach and author of How to Hire the Perfect Employer, has helped answer the important question, “do you have the fit factor?”??
Beqaj, who spent 20 years in the financial security system, says he never quite fit. “Imagine how much better I would have done and how much more fun I would have had if I had fit,” he says.
So what’s fit? It’s more than passion, Beqaj says. You have to consider what you want to be doing and what you are good at. In addition to the passion, you need the skills to succeed. If you could create a job for yourself, what would it be? You may enjoy playing golf or watching basketball, but that doesn’t mean you would be a good fit in the industry.
Need some help figuring out what your fit is? Beqaj says everybody needs an infomercial. “If you don’t have an infomercial you are relying on somebody else to tell you who you are,” he says. Creating your infomercial tells prospective employers what you’re good at, what kinds of people you work best with, if you’re detail oriented and how you resolve conflict.
Find the companies that need what you’re good at and distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Talk about why you’re the best candidate to strike the right “match” in terms of philosophy, vision and culture. Plus, if you are working a job you don’t like, you are likely worse at it and less motivated, which could equal less pay and chance for promotion. Employers will certainly notice your lack of enthusiasm. Fortunately, it goes both ways.
“When you have deep, deep expertise in something, you become irreplaceable and it’s easy to get deep, deep expertise in something when you love it,” Strelecky says. Plus, that means someone will pay you more for your skill sets.
Career exploration: Too many opinions
Up until you are 17 or 18 everyone tells you what to do. Then you get ready to graduate and people start asking you about your future. It can be a bit overwhelming. Strelecky writes, “Most people make significant academic and then career decisions based on the feedback of family and friends. Sure these people mean well, but they aren’t you. Listening to others is only part of college and career readiness. If you can’t listen to your own wants and needs, then you’re in trouble.”
He’s talking from experience. Strelecky’s dad was a dentist, so he figured he’d follow in his footsteps. But he soon realized dentistry was not his passion. His real passion was to become a pilot so he could work and see the world. After pilot school, at the age of 22, Strelecky was diagnosed with a heart condition that meant he could never fly again. Fortunately, Strelecky realized he could still see the world. He just needed to find another fit. “We’ve got lots of options at our disposal,” he says.
Still not sure? That’s OK. Every student’s personal situation is very different. Some students have known what they want to be since they were 5 years old. But most people switch majors at least once, usually twice. Then within two years of graduating college they end up working in an industry that’s not relevant to their college degree. So don’t worry so much about what your major is called or what careers are hot. If you look at people who are truly successful—in all definitions of success—they are all doing something they are psyched about. Find people who are successful in what you want to do and figure out how they found success. Ask them what courses they took in college and about their career path.
College and career readiness begins with passion. Strelecky writes, “The common thread among truly successful people in fields as diverse as those of Bill Gates to Bill Maher is that they are passionate about what they do. That passion is what creates drive, and that drive is what leads to success.”
Take as many different classes as you can. Backpack around the world. Take a semester at sea. Strelecky says it best: “Now’s the time to have a very broad horizon until you lock into that thing where you say, ‘that’s it!’”
Enid Arbelo Bryant is Editor in Chief of NextStepU Magazine.