Monthly Archives: June 2013

How to Have an Effect on Student Achievement


visible-learning-infographic-whatworksinschoolsFirst, let’s put this in context. I am a career coach. I designed a career coaching program, Career Coaching for Students, that I hope is provided to every high school freshmen or sophomore student in the future (I’m not over shooting here am I?).  I am not one to think my hammer is the tool needed for all situations. Student academic achievement is a very complex issue. And ironically, many students would excel if everyone and everything got out of their way.

This article is trying to find why Career Coaching for Students is more effective than what is now offered in high schools and why it has a positive impact on student engagement and achievement.

A very high percentage of students that go through the Career Coaching for Students increase their academic achievement after completing the program. Besides the anecdotal evidence (common sense) that a person who really understands themselves, has identified a potential career that matches their talent design (found a passion) and has developed their own plan for their future tends to be much more engaged – are there more predictive specifics related to why this program works better than other programs?

Osiris Educational in the UK produced an info graphic that reports many statistical findings about what has a positive and negative effect on student achievement. As I examined their data, I became very excited to see many of the strategic pieces in the structure of the Career Coaching for Students program were matching up to the top effects. The authors of the info graphic gave their short explanation of why the top effects work to increase student achievement. I will use their explanations (posted in italics) to form the basis for my comments here.

Top Effects and Why They Work for Career Coaching for Students

1. Self-reported grades/student expectations. This means they are more likely to be successful than other learners as they will be the active element in their learning. Students experience the Career Coaching for Students program like a journey. A coach is not a teacher or parent. We co-create success in examining post-secondary education and career options based on the student’s personal interests. The coach has the methods and tools for the student to quickly identify and learn about high-potential career ideas and engage in research. We don’t leave it to a career assessment listing of job titles found in many assessments. We find the student quickly feels in control and is able to set their own expectations at every step. We just make it easy – it’s all about the student.

2. Teacher credibility. Students are perceptive to which teachers can make a difference to their learning. Teachers who command this credibility are more likely to make a difference. There are two areas of credibility that are crucial to student career coaching. First is the coach’s credibility. It is very difficult for a teacher or counselor whose career has been entirely in the academic world to have a full perspective. Those career coaches that have the greatest credibility tend to have experience in human resource management and/or business management across diverse industries. The second is the assessment’s credibility. Students are perceptive when it comes to reading the different assessments offered through schools. If the assessment produces garbage – or the student perceives the information as less than helpful, you’ve lost the student. Our assessments provide over 40 pages of insights about the student. Our most common comment from students – “This is incredibly accurate.

3. Feedback. Speed of learning doubles following effective feedback. Praise, punishment and rewards are the least effective forms of feedback. Feedback should be just in time, ‘just for me’ information and delivered when and where it has the best benefit. I couldn’t write a better statement to describe the design of the Career Coaching for Students program. Our feedback comes in many forms. First there are the assessment reports (about 40 pages of feedback about who you are). Then there is how to use that information. We unfold the information and integrate it strategically so that the student can connect the dots quickly and easily. ‘Just for me’ is a perfect description of the feedback at every step.

4. Classroom management. Teachers who have well managed classrooms can identify and respond quickly to potential issues and are emotionally objective. Whether we are delivering the Career Coaching for Students program in a classroom or workshop environment or in a more personalized one-on-one setting, the structured approach to “peeling the career exploration onion” with the student enables us as coaches to identify and respond quickly to questions and issues. Remaining emotionally objective has more to do with being non-judgmental about the student’s aspirations. Our approach leaves very little room for subjective reactions to career ideas. We ask great questions that make the student think for themselves. We don’t tell them anything.

5. Parental involvement. Active and positive parents who help students to have high expectations have a positive impact on student achievement. Surveillance or supervision can have a detrimental effect. The Career Coaching for Students program encourages the student to welcome parental involvement and encourages parents to be involved at the right level. Parental involvement is a two-way street that can be more like a slippery climb up an icy road sometimes. Parents who quickly react negatively to career ideas will kill the student’s engagement. We’ve seen it happen more than a few times. Helping the student recover from that slows down their progress. Career exploration is a journey. The student needs to know they are free to explore and will be encouraged throughout the process. With that said, parents have a huge impact on student self esteem and healthy development of responsible independent thinking. We refer often to the program as a “How to make big Decisions” skill development program. It just happens to be focused on career exploration. Parents play a big role here.

6. Cooperative Learning. Students learn better cooperatively than alone or competitively. This form of learning also increases interest and the ability to problem solve through interacting with peers. This one explains why I like the workshop venue. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The student-coach relationship exists to co-create success for the student. Alone doesn’t work – we’ve seen that with the web portal (XAP, Naviance, others) solutions that many high schools subscribe to (see earlier blog article for more about this). In the workshop venue, we see many students with friends in the same workshop. They sit next to each other. Given that career exploration is a very personal exercise, the relationships with fellow attendees in the workshop is very supportive.

The six effects above help to explain why the Career Coaching for Students program is highly effective with all types of students. When it comes to improving academic achievement, I still think the anecdotal evidence is the most valid – that a person who really understands themselves, has identified a potential career that matches their talent design (found a passion) and has a plan for their future tends to be much more engaged – and therefore, much more interested in their own academic achievement.

One of the most frequent comments we hear from parents is “Wow! I wish I had this when I was in high school.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Career Coaching for Students. He is also an organizational development consultant, executive development coach, and creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – checkout the Summer 2013 special offer – 30-days coaching support with the Home Study coaching package.

Survey Identifies How Students Choose Their College or University


Infographic_TrendsinHigherEd204 university counselors in 33 countries took part in an IE University survey designed to pinpoint the interests and preferences of the upcoming generation of university students with regard to study abroad and most popular degree programs.

The survey shows students choose a university mainly to gain training and skills for a future job, and choose a specialization because they feel there is job market growth in that field. When asked about the main reasons for choosing a university, counselors cited:

Main drivers

  • Prestige
  • Location

Secondary consideration

  • Scholarships
  • Content

These findings suggest there is either a lack of appropriate guidance at the high school level or students are dismissing better advice for how to choose a college or university.

With the percent of students changing majors 2, 3 or 4 times, taking 5 years to complete a 4-year degree and student retention and graduation rates dropping, students need to take a smarter approach to choosing a college or university.

The fact that students list prestige as the #1 consideration creates immediate risk for the student. By not considering newer institutions, that may actually be way ahead of their more traditional and prestigious counterparts, students are missing out on some possibly better choices. But even if your needs are best served in one of the more traditional universities, the most prestigious option may not have the best program for your area of study. Prestige alone is not a good reason to choose a college or university.

The best order of consideration and prioritizing that has been shown to produce the best choice (high satisfaction with choice, retention, graduation in expected time frame) for the student is:

  • Determine career interest(s)
  • Determine education requirements for the career interest(s)
  • Create an education strategy (choice of majors, field of study)
  • Research and identify colleges/universities or vocational learning institutions that are leading in the chosen field(s) of study (a high level of prestige for the specific subject area)
  • Rank findings to create a short list of institutional choices
  • Conduct on-campus visits to all short-listed choices
  • Make the choice

With the cost of higher education so high, a one-semester course correction costs thousands of dollars. By following a smart strategy for decision-making, students can avoid that unnecessary added expense and be much happier with their choice. But it requires students to change the way they think about school choices.

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, executive development coach, career coach and author of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and the  Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads. Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – checkout the Summer 2013 special offer.

 

7 Myths About Career Exploration in High School


5 Myths about Career Exploration blog picAround 2004, as a parent with kids approaching high school, I found myself curious about the “state-of-the-art” in career exploration and coaching that the students would receive. As a corporate organizational development consultant and executive coach, focusing mainly on adults either in career transition or executive/high-potential development, I had some insight into “talent” and success in life and work.

My adult clients would ask me to coach their “graduating senior in college” who hadn’t figured out what they wanted to do with their life. That was a warning sign to me – not about the person but about the system. How could a student go all through high school, choose a major, complete an undergraduate degree in college and not have a clue about what they wanted to do? What was the root cause of the failure? What was being done to help students and why was it not working?

Fast forward to 2013, and nothing has changed. Students continue to struggle with who they are and how their personal talent design connects to career choices and educational strategy. In some ways, it comes down to something even broader – learning how to make big decisions. But I am finding the same assessments used in 2004 are being used today. And schools are letting technology deliver career coaching.

Based on what I am seeing and hearing from school administrators, parents and students, I’ve put together a list of myths that are in desperate need of being corrected. These myths are prevalent with teachers, counselors, school boards and parents. See if you carry some of these myths as your own beliefs:

  • Myth #1 The high school has this covered. They’d like you to believe they’ve got career exploration covered. Even community colleges and universities want you to think they’ve got it covered. Be wary of the high school’s use of buzz words and descriptions of programs. For example, “all students take one or more career assessments to help them identify careers” may be technically true as a task they have the students complete. Ask your son or daughter what they thought of the assessment results. Ask them to show you the report. Ask them how the results are being used and what are they doing for career exploration. And for the bottom line question, ask them if they feel they are getting appropriate and tangible support for identifying and evaluating personal career options.
  • Myth #2 The assessments used by your high school are valid and insightful. The best way to check this myth is to take the assessments yourself and check your reaction to the report. As for technical information about the validity and reliability of the assessments, the school’s website will point you to the organization’s website that produces the assessments. With a little digging, you’ll find some kind of statement about validity and reliability. Some assessment companies will actually state “this type of assessment does not fit the criteria for validity and reliability studies”.  Taking the assessments yourself will surely enlighten you to the horribly designed assessment that is expected to “tell” your student which careers will be best for them. But even if you were to accept the quality of instrument as credible, what insights has it produced for the student?  What insights has the student learned about themselves after taking the assessment?
  • Myth #3 Counselors and teachers are focused on this. Ask a counselor about the amount of time they focus on coaching students in making career decisions and they will start explaining (after they stop laughing) how their day, week and semester is spent. It isn’t focused on coaching students in career decisions. Some counselors are leaving schools because their job isn’t about helping students, its about pushing paper.
  • Myth #4 The paid-with-tax-dollars school-site subscription to a cloud-based software program (Naviance, XAP, etc.)  is focused on helping the student find their path in life. Actually, many of these site-licensed “portals” are administrative tracking systems to help teachers be more productive. It is possible they also help students to be more productive with the college application process too. However, the primary focus isn’t on helping a student gain insight into who they are and what they want to become (even though the web-based marketing lingo sounds like they do focus on this). These systems are more focused on workflow management, specifically, “the process of getting students into college”. Who cares if the reason they are going to college is faulty or once they get there they change majors 3 times and graduate in 5 years. Put the ladder on the wrong building and you get to the top of a building with no purpose for being there.
  • Myth #5 High school students are too young and immature to focus much on career exploration or make any kind of career choice. This one is mostly on the parents. All I can tell you is if you think this, you are wrong. I am consistently amazed at the level of engagement and deep thinking that students put into developing a future direction, career exploration, choosing a major, choosing the right college for what they want to do and setting goals for themselves. Even those students that start the Career Coaching for Students program with less maturity quickly shed that cover and engage effectively. Watch for the colleges and universities to  empathize with the “high school is too early to know what you want to do with the rest of your life” thinking. The standard language at on-campus college visit presentations is to tell the student and parents it is perfectly fine to come in “undeclared” and take a year or two to decide what to study. Sure, you can start taking the “required Freshman classes” and a few electives to see what floats your boat. In the meantime, some students are figuring out a lot while still in high school and walking into college with a clear plan that may include double majoring, targeting specific companies for internships and obtaining summer jobs that will give them experience that makes them a top prospect upon graduation. In the meantime, being undeclared seems like a slow path to nowhere, and let’s not to mention the extra expense (thousands of dollars) for changing majors and extending the college stay by just one semester. Oops, I guess I did.
  • Myth #6 High achieving students don’t need as much career exploration support. One of the most challenging (and exciting) situations in coaching students is when the student is “All American” (or “All Canadian” for my Canadian readers). You know the type – very high GPA, active in sports, band, club officer, outside activities, loved by the teachers, respected by the administration, etc.).  The fact that these special individuals have so many capabilities, they have the most choices available to them. Many of these report feeling that they are expected to just know some how what they are going to do. The pressure to have a career direction figured out “on their own” is tremendous. From where I sit, there is no class of students that holds some special psychic ability to know what they want to do. All groups of students from under-achievers to over-achievers need professional career coaching.
  • Myth #7 Career exploration and planning is a “nice to have” but not the primary purpose of high school so it doesn’t deserve the funding or attention in high school. Many research studies have shown a clear connection between a student’s clarity about their future and their level of engagement in school. The result – higher academic achievement. If a student is under-performing academically, there is a good chance it is because they don’t see the potential in themselves and how that potential relates to a future. Many parents have reported back to me that their son/daughter raised their GPA the very next semester after going through the Career Coaching for Students program. But it doesn’t stop there. Students who were never on the academic honor roll in high school, and went through the Career Coaching for Students program their senior year were found two years later to have been on the Dean’s list at college every semester. The studies say this happens with credible career coaching at the high school level. Our experience is saying the same thing.

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, executive development coach, career coach and author of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students. For information about career direction and job search coaching for college students, check out Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads. Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – checkout the Summer 2013 special offer.

Unpaid Internships Ruled Illegal – Is That a Good Thing for Students?


FoxSearchlightLogoAn article by Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times reports that Fox Searchlight Pictures had violated federal and New York minimum wage laws by not paying production interns, a case that could upend the long-held practice of the film industry and other businesses that rely heavily on unpaid internships.

The judge noted that these internships did not foster an educational environment and that the studio received the benefits of the work. The case could have broad implications. Young people have flocked to internships, especially against the backdrop of a weak job market.

Employment experts estimate that undergraduates work in more than one million internships a year, an estimated half of which are unpaid, according to Intern Bridge, a research firm.

On the Intern Bridge website, the firm makes a statement and provides additional information for companies  and students considering unpaid internships:

At Intern Bridge, we strongly believe that all internships should offer hourly monetary compensation. This best practices recommendation is based on countless hours of proprietary research utilizing survey responses from over 100,000 students, discussing the issues with our nationwide network of career center and human resources practitioners, and taking into account critical business and economic principles.

While we consistently advocate for paid opportunities for students, unpaid internships have built a strong presence in the internship space. Recently, the Department of Labor began an awareness campaign to share information regarding potential legal issues with hosting unpaid interns. This Unpaid Internship Resource Center has been designed to share as much up-to-date information as possible.

“Employers have already started to take a hard look at their internship programs,” said Rachel Bien, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “I think this decision will go far to discourage private companies from having unpaid internship programs.”

busboybwUnpaid Internships: the corporate equivalent process for getting into a fraternity in college

Freshman in college choosing to go the social frat route have a couple of hurdles to overcome before being accepted. They must endure embarrassing acts (hazing) and subordinate themselves to the upperclassmen – all while trying to pursue academic standing and other extracurricular activities. And, they have to pay for the privilege to be hazed.

Unpaid company internships, commonly, are general sanitation, lunch order takers and delivery drivers, doing work that in no way enhances their skills and knowledge and prepares them for a professional job upon graduation from college. I consider it a form of hazing when it is a standard way of doing business in a specific industry, such as the film and television entertainment production industry.

This illegal process is so prevalent that students believe they have to do it in order to “break into the business”.

The power of LinkedIn to see the value of unpaid internships vs paid internships

With LinkedIn now the business world version of Facebook, you can find people in your career field that graduated two, four, six or more years ago, took an “unpaid” internship (their profile won’t say it was unpaid but based on what you know about company reputations around internships you can make some assumptions) and see where they ended up. In other words, did the unpaid internship lead to something bigger and better? For the film industry, most did not. Do the same with people that completed a paid internship. Not sure, “inmail” them asking for their insight about the value of their internship.

Are you considering taking an unpaid internship?

Don’t. Unless the following have been provided to you:

  • A specific job description or written objectives that assigns work that increases your skills and knowledge (taking lunch orders and emptying trash cans does not in any way add skill and knowledge of any benefit).
  • The names of the people you will be assigned to work for. Are they managers and/or senior experienced professionals with expertise you want to learn from? Have you met the people you will work for? Did they discuss their commitment to assigning you meaningful work and mentoring you?
  • A path for how the internship will lead to full time opportunities after graduation or after the internship is up. The benefit for the company should be one focus: to evaluate the internship for possible hiring upon graduation.
  • A specific period of time that the unpaid portion will last. Ideally, you are then converted to paid internship or full time.

The film and television entertainment industry including the dramatic arts (theatre) may be the worst industry that abuses the internship model. All companies in all industries that abuse the internship’s true purpose are broadcasting a message that they are a backward thinking, short term-focused and unethical company. Do you really want to work for that kind of company?

If you want to work for one of these companies, just apply for the open janitor position. At least then you’ll get paid.

Carl Nielson is a professional career coach and author of the Career Coaching for Students program. For information about career direction and job search coaching, check out Success Discoveries’ Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads. Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – special Summer 2013 offer.

Congrats College Grads! Are You Using LinkedIn for Your Job Search?


LinkedIn for College StudentsThree Ways Recent Grads Can Leverage LinkedIn for Long-Term Success by John Hill, LinkedIn June 6, 2013

You have your new degree in hand and your future at the forefront, so now what? Whether you’ve landed a job or are still weighing your options, LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool for your next steps post-graduation. We’ve pulled together three simple things you can do now to successfully transition from campus to career.

Take Charge of Your Professional Identity
Your LinkedIn profile makes it possible for opportunities to find you. It is a virtual billboard that communicates to current, potential and future employers, and colleagues 24 hours a day. That said, a complete profile doesn’t mean just replicating your resume. Here are a few steps to take to create a standout profile:

  • Use the Summary section on your LinkedIn profile to tell people who you are professionally and who you want to be professionally
  • Make your profile your portfolio. Upload documents, videos and images to your LinkedIn profile to showcase your successes throughout your education. Share a presentation you gave in your business class, a video you produced for your film class, or an architectural drawing you are particularly proud of.
  • Add Student Sections to capture your experiences in and out of the classroom like projects, honors and awards
  • Define your Skills and Expertise
  • Follow the Companies, Influencers and Groups that relate to the industries you’re interested in

Remember, a great profile not only ensures you are putting your best foot forward, it also makes it possible for recruiters and great opportunities to find you!

Create A Network Based on Quality Contacts, Not Quantity
LinkedIn is where business takes place, so your connections should reflect who you are as a future professional and be made up of trusted relationships. Here are four affiliations you should focus on while growing and maintaining your network:

  1. Friends and family
  2. University connections
  3. People you shared work experience with
  4. Those who you share volunteer and causes with (including student groups and fraternal organizations)

Connecting with the great people you meet along the way will enable you to build a community of experts that will support you throughout your career. Need more ideas for who to connect with? Get some help along the way from People You May Know.

Dream Big
LinkedIn showcases the successes of your school’s alumni through features like the Alumni tool. You can see how someone went from the classrooms you attended to become CEO. Or, find people who graduated from your university who now work in the industries and companies you’re interested in joining. Once you have identified and connected with them, consider reaching out and setting up an informational interview. LinkedIn can be a directory of dreams, showing you where you can go and what you can do based on the success of others with similar professional pathways.

Good luck!

For information about career direction and job search coaching, check out Success Discoveries’ Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads. Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – special Summer 2013 offer.

My Summer Internship was an incredible and valuable experience


Mentoring is a big part of a summer internshipSummer internships, and summer jobs in general, are in short supply. They are also over in a flash. Regardless of what you are doing for the summer, starting with a mindset that you will get the most out of that summer internship or job is critical to leveraging the opportunity. If you are thinking, “Wow! I got the job, I can’t wait to see who of the opposite sex will be working there too. I hope they’re hot!“, your hormones are creating a barrier to you having your priorities straight.  That isn’t what we mean when we say “get the most”.

The best internships are win-win relationships where both parties get everything they want: At the end of an ideal summer, you’ll be able to say yes when anyone asks if you have experience and you’ll also be able to speak clearly about the value of the experience (what you learned, technical skills, soft skills you developed, etc.). And your employer will feel good about the investment they made (time and money) to hire you, train you to do the work, mentor you and pay you.

So how can you make sure both of you walk away satisfied when the summer wraps up and your internship comes to a close? Keep these tips in mind.
  1. Build credits first before you ask for what you want. There’s no need to be intimidated by your internship “boss”, this experience belongs to both of you. If you’re being tucked away in a corner to sort paper clips and you aren’t getting the exposure and experience you need, first, gain the trust and confidence in your manager by doing good work. Get the menial tasks done as quickly as you can (but with quality) and then ask for other projects you can help with. Asking to work on “projects” is key here. Task completion is the test for more responsibility. Let other people know you. Introduce yourself to other managers in other departments. Do not complain to anyone about anything – be optimistic when interacting with others.
  2. Recognize that “learning” in the workplace doesn’t happen the way it does in school. In the real world, lessons are in the air all around you, and they don’t announce themselves when they show up. Don’t wait for your boss to tell you to pick up a note pad and write things down. Take responsibility for keeping your eyes and ears open, asking your own questions, and making the most of the answers that come your way.
  3. Talk to people. During your internship, you’ll be surrounded by professional working adults who have been immersed in this business for years, and these people have plenty to teach you. But they may not open up unless you make the first move. Eliminate the thought that you can’t ask for something. Your youth and inexperience give you a certain freedom in this regard that won’t last forever. Ask all the stupid questions you want. Now’s the time.
  4. Make yourself valuable. Even if you aren’t a licensed practitioner and you aren’t able to take on high levels of real responsibility, try to make your presence a welcome sight. Keep your attitude cheerful, keep your hands busy, keep your eyes up—not on the floor or your desk—and keep your mind open. There’s nothing more appealing than an enthusiastic intern who helps older employees remember why they first got into this business.
  5. Develop a thanking habit. Showing appreciation is a habit that will serve you well throughout your professional life. The more generous you are with your thanks, the better. Keep them sincere.

The most important thing to remember as you launch into your internship can be summarized in one word: respect. Show respect for your employer, your coworkers, the work you complete on the job, your company’s customers, and yourself. The more respect you give, the more respect you’ll get, and with respect comes opportunity. Walk away from this experience with everything you need to get your career off to a strong start after you graduate.

Are “soft skills” really that important?


Adapted from: Downing, Skip. (2005). On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life. Originally posted on http://advising.wvu.edu

The key to success is in the connected mindCareer success or lack of it affects nearly every part of your life: family, income, self-esteem, who you associate with, where you live, your level of happiness, what you learn, your energy level, your health, and maybe even the length of your life.

Some students think, “All I need for success at work is the special knowledge of my chosen career.” All that nurses need, they believe, are good nursing skills. All that accountants need are good accounting skills. All that lawyers need are good legal skills. These skills are called hard skills, the knowledge needed to perform a particular job. Hard skills include knowing where to insert an intravenous feeding tube, how to write an effective business plan, and what the current inheritance laws are. These are the skills you’ll be taught in courses in your major field of study. They are essential to qualify for a job. Without them you won’t even get an interview.

But, most people who’ve been in the work world a while will tell you this: Hard skills are necessary to get a job but often insufficient to keep it or advance. That’s because nearly all employees have the hard skills necessary to do the job for which they’re hired. True, some may perform these skills a little better or a little worse than others, but one estimate suggests that only 15 percent of workers who lose their jobs are fired because they can’t do their job. That’s why career success is of ten determined by soft skills. As one career specialist put it, “Having hard skills gets you hired; lacking soft skills gets you fired.”

A United States government study agrees that soft skills are essential to job success. In the early 1990’s, the Secretary of Labor asked a blue-ribbon panel to determine what it takes to be successful in the modern employment world. This panel published a report called the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The SCANS report presents a set of foundation skills and workplace competencies deemed essential for work world success today.

No one familiar with today’s work world will find many surprises in the report, especially in the foundation skills.

The report calls for employees to develop the same soft skills that are asked for in employment ads, that employers look for in reference letters and job interviews, and that supervisors assess in periodic evaluations of their work force.

The SCANS report identifies the following soft skills as necessary for work and career success:

  • taking responsibility
  • making effective decisions
  • setting goals
  • managing time
  • prioritizing tasks
  • persevering
  • giving strong efforts
  • working well in teams
  • communicating effectively
  • having empathy
  • knowing how to learn
  • exhibiting self-control
  • believing in one’s own self worth

Learning these skills will help you succeed in your first career after college. And, because soft skills are portable (unlike most hard skills), you can take them with you in the likely event that you later change careers. Most career specialists say the average worker today can expect to change careers at least once during his or her lifetime. In fact, some 25 percent of workers in the United States today are in occupations that did not even exist a few decades ago. If a physical therapist decides to change careers and work for an internet company, he needs to master a whole new set of hard skills. But the soft skills he’s mastered are the same ones that will help him shine in his new career.

So, as you’re learning these soft skills, keep asking yourself, “How can I use these skills to stay on course to achieving my greatest potential at work as well as in college?” Be assured, (these soft skills) can make all the difference between success and failure in your career.

How to tackle development of soft skills

Self-directed work is possible using the Life Skills for Students program offered at Career Coaching for Students. However, using the same material and content, holding weekly focus groups with friends is much more meaningful and fun.

Carl Nielson is the creator of Career Coaching for Students and Student Resource Central, the most comprehensive one-stop resource for career exploration, major and education institution research and leading thought for students in high school and college.