Fumbling Your Career Before You Even Start

Faux Interstate Sign Directing Success to the Left and Failure to the Right

Whatever you do, don't turn right!

I’ve found a gaping hole in career advising that happens at career advising offices at universities, and hobbles students careers before they get them started.

First, let’s take a look at your typical university career center’s menu of services:

  • Resume advice, templates, and guides
  • Myers-Briggs Personality testing
  • Interviewing skills coaching
  • Career fairs
  • Networking advice
  • Job postings on an online bulletin board

Frankly, it’s not too shabby; but there is one area of the usual advising that leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s that lack of attention given to strategically thinking about developing a career.  What do I mean by that?  Let’s take a look at a typical inexperienced student.  they probably have a goal job – what they want to be when they grow up.  When I was in college, I wanted to be a fee-only financial planner.*  I had the will, but I didn’t have the knowledge to create a strategy to get there.  It also doesn’t help that, in financial planning, there isn’t much of an established career track.

This is where a career office can provide massive value.  The new student probably doesn’t know how to think about their career strategically, and having experienced guidance would be a boon.  Graduating students are eager to get launched into a job as soon as possible, but there is real value to making sure that the job opportunity that they go for is consistent with their goals, and that the work that they choose leads to the work they want to do.

Strategic thinking will also help guide them to the type of education, qualifications, and experience that will get them the job they want.

*  Yes, I was one of those focused-on-the-future, level-headed, nose-to-the-grindstone students.  No, I was not invited to many parties, but I’m cool with that. 🙂

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