In today’s highly competitive, extremely fast growing, changing and demanding world, what are the skills and qualities that will help graduates land a great job and succeed?
For years, academic achievement and proficiency have been the primary focus and determining aspects in college acceptance and employment success. However, recently, they were identified as not enough. Research has pointed to other key learner attributes. Employers, in their turn, look for other factors in prospective new hires. What defines their success in their lives and careers are their attitudes, personal attributes, as well as technical and applied skills. These factors are what some are calling employability skills, college and career readiness skills, or 21st century skills for college and career readiness. We are going to call them “success elements.”
In this series, we discuss 11 success elements that we’ve identified as critical to 21st century workplace success. We will explore what they mean, possible ways to develop them, and why they are essential for young graduates work and life success.
How to Help Students Transition from High School to Higher Education and their Careers
High school juniors and seniors often find themselves in a sort of ‘early-life-crisis’. In high school, they may have experienced some flexibility and freedom in choosing their extracurricular classes, sport, music, etc. However, their schedules were more or less programmed for them. Their current concern is how they will transition from high school to higher education or the workplace. Career management is the answer.
In order to ease their anxiety, we can guide students to plan for their future. Many of them do not know how to manage their careers. Career management is the lifelong, self-monitored process of planning and preparing that involves choosing and setting personal goals and formulating strategies for achieving them.
Teaching career management, facilitated by academic advising, enables students to self-assess, research, prioritize their options, and finally compare and consider them before choosing their desired field. It also allows for practical college and job preparation involving resume creation, interview practice, and networking experience.
This is an area Aimee
Before We Get Started
In general, career management involves the exploration of different occupations, discovering one’s interests, talents, and skills, performing self-assessment, exposing oneself to personal development opportunities (such as training courses and conferences), learning new skills, and striving to open doors of opportunity.
In a study done for UK-based Teach First, Hooley, Watts & Andrews (2015) developed a taxonomy of teachers’ roles which contribute to work readiness. There is an explicitly identified role for school teachers in delivering career and employability learning (Teach First, 2015).
Career management begins with academic advising directed by counselors, teachers, and mentors. A pedagogy developed by The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising) states, “Academic advising, based in the teaching and learning mission of higher education, is a series of intentional interactions with a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a set of student learning outcomes. Academic advising synthesizes and contextualizes students’ educational experiences within the frameworks of their aspirations, abilities, and lives to extend learning beyond campus boundaries and timeframes” (NACADA, 2006, para 7). Academic advising can serve as a bridge activity to career advising, helping to keep a student’s academic choices in step with their ultimate career goals.
The first phase in academic advising is to facilitate self-assessment. When students have a definite idea of the career path they want to take, they will begin acquiring the required skills, building meaningful relationships, and developing a network of key people in the same field of interest. The career management process may also be something of a quest to discover personal likes, preferences, and skills they might not yet be aware of.
In practice, academic advising involves meetings between advisor and students individually to establish and implement an academic plan that supports a ‘career plan’. The frequency of meetings is determined by the mentor’s and student’s schedule. In these meetings, students share what their interests, talents, and skills are; advisors inform the students of the relevant institutional and community resources available to them. Terry O’Banion proposes “An Academic Advising Model” that, “The purpose of academic advising is to help the student choose a program of study which will serve him in the development of his total potential” (O'Banion, 1994, p. 10).
Barbara S. Metzner of Indiana University-Purdue adds that academic advising is acclaimed by many as an essential component in the retention of students (Metzner, 1989). Author of “The Role of Academic Advising in Student Retention and Persistence”, Jayne K. Drake shares a testimonial of her own experience in academic advising. After a bright but timid student of hers was considering a construction job in lieu of college, she devised a strategy with which he could feel comfortable in a college classroom. She goes on to share that, “He graduated summa cum laude and continued his forward academic momentum through his master’s degree at another area university. The moral of this story? It points to the power of advising, communicating, and mentoring in student success and persistence to graduation” (Drake, 2011, p. 8). Students may feel lost when it comes to career and college preparation, and it is with encouragement and planning that they can succeed.
Developing career-ready performance begins with an understanding of the changing labor market and why we need approaches that empower students to develop the necessary skills and competencies to navigate the dynamic workplace (Bridgstock, 2009). Employees must be both immediately and sustainably ready for work. In order to fulfill these 21st century needs, students must develop and maintain skills specific to their desired field and possess generic skills and attributes that allow them to change occupational areas (Bridgstock, 2009). Academic advising can be a good tool here. Burns Crookston shares in a NACADA Journal article, “A Developmental View of Academic Advising as Teaching”, that advising isn’t necessarily concerned “with a specific personal or vocational decision, but with facilitating the student’s rational processes, environmental and interpersonal interactions, behavioral awareness and problem-solving, decision-making, and evaluation skills” (Crookston, 1994, p. 5). That is why it is essential to keep in mind that career planning involves more than just a chosen career but must address the student as a whole person. Students should be are asked to discuss their interests, talents, and skills, so as to reveal where they would be best suited - whether that be college, a trade, or the workplace - in their totality.
Steps to Successful Student Career Planning
A career discovery phase is incredibly important to the students’ planning process. In practicing academic advising and teaching career management, teachers and advisors help students synthesize and contextualize their aspirations and abilities by first identifying what they are interested in. Usually, students get career information through self-exploration of values, interests, and skill strengths and weaknesses and environment exploration (generally from discussing career interests with peers or family members). If they arrive to your classroom or office uninspired by their surroundings, discuss their interests, hobbies, skills, and personal values.
Firstly, self-assessment in terms of career planning involves four components: personality, interests, values, and skills (MIT Career Advising & Professional Development, n.d.):
- Personality: what motivates the students and what makes them happy
- Interests: what they love
- Values: what is important to them
- Skills: what they are good at
Once the student has compiled this list, they may now combine it with research of target companies, notes from talking to professionals in their desired field, and volunteering and interning experience. This second step is research. In this search, remind students to question what makes them happy and inspired, what challenges and excites them so that their personality and interest values are filled in. Also, to facilitate this search, educators and mentors may hold research workshops and invite professionals onto campus for Q&A talks with students.
When the research is completed, the third step is to condense and prioritize the student’s list of options. Ask questions such as: What do you want out of a job? What is most important to you?
Additionally, advise your students not to make a decision preemptively. In the fourth stage of this process, students should compare their list of career options to their prioritized interests, values, and skills. Though you want to excite, inspire, and support your students, keep in mind that they may feel overwhelmed or become overambitious. Remind them to be realistic about their expectations and timelines. And lastly, consider factors that will impact them. Ask: What is the current demand for your selected career field? Will your career be necessary in ten years? Can you adapt if this field changes? What qualifications are needed? How will this option affect you and your family? Finally, the student must ultimately make the best choice for themselves, considering their individual needs and wants.
Keep up with your student’s progress as they finish their education so that they will have a firm and applicable model to continue into their careers. With these steps, you can help your students create, define, and achieve their career goals.
Preparing for College and the Workplace
When the Steps to Successful Student Career Planning have been achieved, guide your students in making a defined and accessible plan or a Career Action Plan.
- Research your desired college major/career
- Create a Resume
- Practice and prepare for interviews
- Volunteer, intern, ask questions
- Help students identify which career may best suit them holistically
- Review and edit student resumes
- Hold a mock interview with your students
- Facilitate volunteer, internships, and interviews with local organizations and businesses for your students
After considerable research, in both self and career prospects, students will want to begin constructing their professional self-image. This is where step two becomes necessary as a resume is imperative to a student’s post-high school journey. It is sometimes beneficial for students ready for career prospecting to have more than one resume prepared with different versions tailored to a specific field or opportunity they may want. With a tailored resume in hand, students may then approach professionals in their desired field about full or part-time employment, internship, and/or volunteer opportunities.
Engaging with professionals in their desired field, interning, and volunteering enables students to get practical experience in reaching their goals. Through networking, professionals, mentors, and advisors can help students learn more about their chosen career path and even introduce them to other professionals, influencers, or hiring managers.
Together, advisors and advisees might co-construct a list of the specific steps that will lead students to achieve their goals and help them stay organized. Review and check off each step as they are completed and modify the steps/list when necessary. Their goals and priorities may change - and that’s completely okay. Career planning may start at a young age - and it would be of greater impact to do so (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2010).
Here’s to the Future
Career management is founded on academic advising - the systematic process based on a close student-mentor relationship where students are aided in achieving educational, career, and personal goals, through mentor guidance, and institutional and community resources (Hendey, 1999). The power of advising is found in student success and self-fulfillment. With an advisor’s aid, students are better informed and prepared for their next steps - especially in a rapidly changing information and knowledge-intensive economy and workplace. O’Banion (1994) cautions, “It is assumed that students have already made choices regarding life goals and vocational goals when they enter the college- a questionable assumption for college students in general and a harmful assumption for community college students in particular” (p. 10). Career planning must continue into higher education and the workplace. Students are no less vulnerable to career mismanagement once they have chosen a program or career. With an Aimee Bio, students can continue the planning strategies that you’ve taught them after class and, most importantly, after their time with you has come to an end.
In order to engage in purposeful social media activity, Aimee.Bio offers students a means by which they can present themselves professionally and genuinely. With a Bio, students can create professional resumes in preparation for a career or college. As they write their resume by completing an Aimee Bio, they can safely, appropriately, and actively present their self-image online.
Planning is key to career management and we can build the foundation for our students through academic advising. Career management allows for practical college and job preparation involving resume creation, interview practice, and networking experience. It enables students to self-assess, research, prioritize their options, and finally compare and consider them before choosing their desired field, ultimately leading to a positive and fulfilling future.
Bridgstock, Ruth (2009). The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: enhancing graduate employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research & Development, 28:1, 31-44, DOI: 10.1080/07294360802444347
Crookston, B.B. (1994). A Developmental View of Academic Advising As Teaching. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 5-9.
Drake, J. (2011). The Role of Academic Advising in Student Retention and Persistence. American College Personnel Association and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Retrieved February 20, 2019 from http://advising.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/jaynearticle%20%283%29.pdf
Hendey, W.G. (1999). Developmental Advising: A Practical View. The Mentor, An Academic Advising Journal, 1. Retrieved February 2, 2019 from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/archives/volume-one/
Hooley, T., Watts, A.G., Andrews, D. (2015). Teachers and Careers: The Role Of School Teachers in Delivering Career and Employability Learning. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby
Meztner, B. (1989). Perceived Quality of Academic Advising: The Effect on Freshman Attrition. American Educational Research Journal, 26(3), 422-442. Retrieved February 20, 2019 from https://academicadvising.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk4866/files/inline-files/Metzner%201989%20Academic%20Advising%20and%20Freshman%20Attition.pdf
MIT Career Advising & Professional Development (n.d.). Self-Assessment. Retrieved February 21, 2019 from https://capd.mit.edu/explore-careers/career-first-steps/self-assessment
NACADA: The Global Community of Academic Advising. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/Concept.aspx
O'Banion, T. (1994). An Academic Advising Model. NACADA Journal, 14(2), pp.10-16. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/portals/0/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/documents/14-2-OBanion-pp10-16.pdf
Partnership for 21st-century skills. (2010) Up to the Challenge, The Role of Career and Technical Education and 21st Century Skills in College and Career Readiness. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519335.pdf
TeachFirst. (2015). Careers education in the classroom: the role of teachers in making young people work ready. Retrieve from http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/363286