Category Archives: career interest

Why a Double Major is Extremely Valuable


When it comes to education strategy, looking at career interests is always first. Then look at the career’s educational requirements and talk to people in the career for additional insight. Find out what education will make you the most attractive to employers for the career you are most interest in pursuing. Students who graduate with a double major tend to be more attractive than students with a single major and those with a major/minor combination.

StudentBookStackTo be fair, there are some careers that require a labor-intensive college degree such as nursing, engineering and possibly business. Double majoring for those may be difficult or impossible. Declaring these majors up front through your college admissions application will likely block any consideration of a double degree going in. Also, pursuing two majors from two different colleges will have its challenges as well. The more academic overlap between the two majors, the less course hours you’ll have to complete.

However, putting aside the labor-intensive degrees, all others are ideally suited for anyone to obtain a double degree in four years. So here is a short list of reasons why you should double major:

  • If you plan from the beginning (starting in high school), you’ll find college academic planning for a double major will result in no or very little additional coursework
  • A double major expands your opportunity to “find” a specific career direction within a general career direction
  • A double major is more attractive to employers. It shows diversity of interests and knowledge and shows you are not one to do the minimum amount of work
  • A double major will very likely set you up for more rapid advancement once you are working
  • If you do decide to change your career direction, a double major has positioned you to make the least amount of academic changes

SCHOOL COUNSELORSThere are some watch-outs when considering a double major:

  • Internships are practically a must – more valuable than a double major. So don’t think a double major gives you the freedom to relax about internships. Keep your GPA above 3.0 and you’ll likely be attractive to internship providers after four semesters. You must pursue internships, they won’t pursue you.
  • Don’t avoid labor-intensive courses. Most double majors won’t kill you. The tendency to select courses that require minimum work out of a fear of being overloaded is a bad strategy. Pick courses that you feel will be best for your career, without consideration of the amount of work. Some semesters will be harder than others but they won’t all be hard.
  • Some universities have a special honors/scholars program for incoming Freshman within specific colleges, but especially the humanities. Apply for these and discuss their fit to your goal of completing a double major within four years. As many students have stated about these programs, “the scholars program was a GPA buster but well worth it for what I gained“. OK, so instead of a 4.0 for those four classes over two semesters, you received a 3.8. Employers won’t care about the GPA impact but they will be impressed with a double major and scholars program recipient.

dream-job-nextexitIf you are considering a double major, the time to decide is between your senior year of high school and the end of your Freshman year of college.

Ideally, going in with the decision already made will enable you to assert your desires on your academic advisers from the beginning. But to do that means you’ve really done your work to flush out career interests. Some universities embrace and encourage double majors and some do not. For some, they won’t let you declare the second major until your sophomore year. The greater the clarity you have at the beginning, the better your questions and decisions as you step through the college selection and enrollment process as well.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that works.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.

Look Past the Now to Understand What You Should Be Doing Now


Advice for both high school and college students

Students who can see the future will be more successful doing things nowAs a student, it is absolutely normal to be focused on the here and now. You may even think you have no capacity for anything else. If you have clear academic goals for yourself, achieving a good GPA, active in a few extracurricular activities, etc. you are certainly on the right track. Things may seem to be going very well.

One of the areas we focus on in the Career Coaching for Students™ program is networking. In the high school version, we introduce the concept of networking to find people in the career of interest. Students are assisted in finding and holding informational interviews to learn about a particular career. In the college version, we go much deeper. Career informational interviews are still important but just the beginning. Networking has a much bigger role to play in your success, perhaps as much as the high GPA you are working so hard to get. If career centers are bringing in employers hungry for your skills and knowledge you may see networking as unnecessary and time consuming. If you take that approach, you are most likely cutting off 80% of job opportunities, including internships that may be within reach if you were to take networking seriously.

For high school students, use career exploration as a reason to do the networking. Adults in careers that you are interested in are very willing to talk about what they do. Once you get to college it won’t be so easy to get that interview. Many will think you are just trying to get a job.

Look Past the Now

J. T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of CAREERREALISM.com and nationally syndicated career expert posted a blog on LinkedIn titled No Job Posted…Send Resume Anyway?  She is speaking directly to people in the work world who are actively looking for a job. The question a reader presents is fixated on the resume and how to submit it. Ms. O’Donnell tries to educate you to the barriers that will stop your resume from getting seen. She recommends a different approach that most don’t follow. Look at what she is saying and see how you can be doing the “planting of networking seeds” now so you have a high-quality network later when you need it.

She starts her article with a quote from a reader:

In one of your webinars recently you said go straight to the companies and avoid the postings. My question is: Do you make sure that a company is hiring or do you just send your letter and resume and hope for the best? Some companies do not accept resumes if they don’t have a specific job opening.

The answer is “no.” You shouldn’t blindly submit your materials. But, not because a company won’t accept them. They will. However…

Here’s Why Your Resume Won’t Get Seen…

When I tell people to go straight to the company, what I mean is there’s no point in applying online unless you have someone you know in the company who can walk your credentials into the hiring manager and ask them to pull your resume from the thousands they’ve received online and take a closer look. Yep, I said THOUSANDS. Today, applying via job boards is the easiest way to look for a work – so, everyone is doing it. Yet, it also happens to be the least effective method for getting noticed. Why? The ATS (applicant tracking system) employers use to gather applications automatically screen you out for not being an exact keyword and experience match for the job. Still, people continue to waste hours upon hours filling out online applications only to be shocked and disappointed when they never hear back from the employers. They say to me, “But J.T., I was perfect for the job.” I respond, “Yes, you and hundreds of other people.” The reality is your chances of making it through the online process and into the hands of a human being are only slightly better than you winning the lottery.

Effective Job Seeker Rule #1: Submit Resumes to Actual People

Want to improve your odds of getting noticed by employers? Only submit your resume and cover letter to human beings. How? Network and connect with employees of the companies you desire to work at. Then, when a job gets posted you are a match for, instead of going into the ATS blackhole, you can reach out to your contacts and see if they can help you get your credentials in the hiring manager’s hands. There’s a reason 80%+ of jobs today are gotten via referral – it works!

No Job Posted? Even More Reason to Network

When there’s a company you’d like to work for but they’ve no jobs posted, you’ve got an opportunity to prepare for the day they finally hire for your skill set. You can start the networking process now with employees and get to know first-hand what it will take to eventually earn a position at their company. Better still, you may learn about the “hidden” jobs at the company. The ones that are open but not posted anywhere online. While sending a resume to HR will likely end up in the circular file. (a.k.a. trash can), connecting and having meaningful conversations with employees will result in you being fully prepared to fast-track your resume to the right hiring manager.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl has helped thousands of students find a better way through the career exploration process that works.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.

11 Pieces of Career Advice That go 95% Ignored


Originally posted on July 21, 2013 by  Mark Babbitt, founder of YouTern, a site for student internships.

Take the AdviceNo matter how many times mentors say them, there are pieces of advice – golden nuggets of been-there-done-that wisdom – that no one (okay, almost no one) ever follows.

Not the clichés you see every day like “Become a morning person”. Or the false-positive, affirmation-ridden stuff like “Make someone happy… with a smile!” Nor are these the really bad bits of advice dispensed so often we accept them as fact, like “Follow Your Passion”.

These never-fail insights would make a significant impact on the lives and careers of many… if (sigh) anyone would actually follow the advice:

1.  Follow Up

As a society, we suck at following up. I have no idea why… laziness; fear of success; a failure to prioritize, perhaps. I just know that about 2% of those who take a business card, or say they will follow up – after a tweet, phone call, one-on-one meeting, networking function, etc. – actually do.

Want to stand out among all your competition – no matter what you hope to achieve? Follow up.

2.  Personalize Everything

Think those generic connection requests on LinkedIn and auto-DMs on Twitter will get you noticed in a positive way? Think that generic cover letter and resume will get you an interview? Think that email template you send to potential mentors will be the beginning of a valuable relationship?

Your thinking… is wrong. In today’s world, every communication you send must be personalized. Period.

3.  Make a To-Do List

“I don’t do to-do lists” is one of the biggest red flags in the professional world. No matter how you keep track – pen and paper, smartphone, laptop, iPad – a to-do list is a mandatory element of staying organized and being able to properly prioritize your next activity.

Don’t come by list-making naturally? Try the “CNN” method of listing tasks, which by default helps you prioritize: C = “Critical”. N = “Need to do”. N = “Nice to do”. Works, every time.

4.  Find a Mentor (Lots of Mentors!)

One of the key traits of crazy-successful young careerists comes down to one thing: the existence of professional mentors. Perhaps a stable of them, or a “Personal Board of Advisors”.

Not sure where to find mentors? LinkedIn Groups are a place to start. Or visit #InternPro chat and/or #jobhuntchat on Twitter, each Monday evening starting at 9pm and 10pm ET, respectively. Those chats are mentor goldmines… you just have to do some digging.

5.  Read, Read and Read Some More

Check out the autobiography of just about any major innovator in modern times… insatiable reading is near the top of everyone’s “never fails advice” list. Blogs, books, white papers, best practices, rants… it doesn’t matter what you read. Just read. And get your brain moving in a direction different than it might be used to going.

Don’t think you have time for a lot of reading? Next time you’re tempted to download a game to your smartphone, download a book or blog post by someone like Seth Godin or Ted Coine instead.

6.  Know that No Soft Skill is More Important than Hustle

I’m at the point now that if I hear one more person talking about establishing their personal brand – but never really see that person actually DO anything – I’m probably going to go ape sh*t.

Present all the soft skills you want. Create the most polished profiles possible. But if I can’t clearly see that you are a “do-er” and not just a “dream-er”… that you are not willing to bust your ass, old-school style… it is all just talk. And I am not interested.

7.  Present Yourself as a Problem Solver

In our current economy, every organization is trying to do more with less. There is just no room for automatons who simply “do their job”. Those companies seek innovative thinkers who provide solutions… or at least ideas that contribute to solutions. They want those who will generate impact.

How to do that? So simple:

  1. Identify a challenge.
  2. Think – or build a team to think – of a solution.
  3. Present the solution.
  4. Actively listen to the feedback.
  5. Improve the solution.

8.  Own “It”

It doesn’t matter what “it” is. It could be that challenge that needs a solution. Or maybe a big project that gives you a chance to shine. Perhaps it’s the garbage that needs taking out, or a bathroom that needs cleaning before a client comes to the office. Or, just maybe its a mistake you made. No matter what is thrown at you, or to you… own it.

How do you project this in-demand trait? Take on this mindset: “This is my job to do. I will do it to the best of my ability. Once done, I will ask for more responsibility.” Not a bad way to go through a career.

9.  Be a Stalker

Yep, a stalker. Just short of the restraining order… stalk. Stalk recruiters. Stalk potential mentors and influencers. Stalk potential business partners, collaborators and innovators. Yes, you’ll eventually run into someone who thinks you’ve crossed the line into creepy; that comes with the territory… (just know THAT is the time to back off).

Tom Bolt, recruiter extraordinaire, puts this best: “If anyone wants to get my attention as a recruiter, they will approach me on social media, email me, apply to my jobs online, call me… literally stalk me.”

10.  Be THE Expert (at least more knowledgeable and desiring to learn than the other candidates)

Here’s the aspect of career development that falls on deaf ears more than anything else…

Perhaps it is because many young careerists have been in academic-theory-hell for too long. Maybe it’s because we think being everything to everybody is the best way to get that job. Or maybe it is because we don’t yet have a narrow point of focus.

Whatever the reason, trust me on this: if you want to get noticed, become THE expert on whatever marketable subject works best for you. Candidates get passed over, all the time. Experts (real subject experts, not the self-promotional variety) get recruited, all the time.

11.  All Anyone Cares About: Results

My personal favorite, especially when someone says: “But I worked really hard on that!”

In the real world, it does not matter one little bit how much effort you put into a project. The only thing that matters is… results. How does your work measure up against milestones? Did you meet the goals of the project? Did you exceed expectations?

If not… the last thing you want to talk about to a boss, mentor or potential employer is how hard you worked… to achieve nothing.

success-really-looks-likeAs you build your career, be the 5% who will follow this worthy, career-changing advice. And don’t be afraid to pass it along to others. Just don’t be surprised when they don’t listen (but be incredibly grateful for those who do… that’s when the magic happens!)

Thanks to Mark Babbitt, CEO and Founder of Youtern for this post! Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. Contact Mark on Twitter!

If you know what you want to do for a career, and are wanting to find an internship, check out Youtern. If you aren’t sure about what career to pursue, check out Career Coaching for Students, a program for college students or high school students or recent grads. Developed by corporate talent management career coaching experts – not academic counselors.

I Want to Quit (My Career)


Talent Management MagazineThe July 2013 issue of Talent Management Magazine, a respected journal for human resources executives, highlighted some new statistics that reinforce what I’ve been trying to communicate to parents, high school administrators and college and university career centers for some time now – “what you are doing isn’t working!”

Here are excerpts from the article…you be the judge


First there was the Gallup survey that came out in early June 2013, which found the majority of American employees (70 percent) were either not engaged or actively disengaged with their work.

As if that wasn’t enough to raise red flags for employers who care about and are tracking employee engagement, a new Harris survey for the University of Phoenix in Arizona that was released July 8, 2013 showed that more than half of U.S. employees want to change not only their jobs, but their careers.

Apparently, only 14 percent of workers say they’re in their dream careers.

Some of you may not be surprised to learn this feeling is more pronounced among workers in their 20’s (80 percent), but it’s certainly not specific to this demographic alone: Sixty-four percent of those in their 30s want to change careers and 54 percent of those in their 40s reported the same.

Is this the classic “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the unstable economic environment coupled with debilitating student loan debt coerced many graduates to scrounge up any kind of employment they could secure just to have a steady cash inflow. Consider that nearly three-fourths of those surveyed (73 percent) said they didn’t end up with a job they had originally anticipated when they were younger.

And before you go on a rant about how flaky millennials are, you may be surprised to learn that those in the upper echelons of corporate America are among those who want to sign up for a different career. Nearly half (43 percent) of C-level executives said they were somewhat interested in switching careers, while 26 percent expressed a stronger desire to do so.

Offering lateral moves and defining a clear career path for employees might not be the silver bullet when it comes to engagement and retention problems, but it’s a start.


Employers can’t fix this. And then there are high schools and colleges continuing to do the same things they’ve been doing for the past 10+ years, only now the high schools have teacher productivity work flow tools in the cloud (Naviance, XAP, etc.) to help track high school student college readiness tasks.

This is a wake up call. Want to decrease student loan debt? Get smarter about planning career and educational strategies. You can delegate career exploration and career matching to an overworked high school counselor with outdated assessments or delay this work until college where students are going in undeclared, changing majors 3 or 4 times and taking 5 years to graduate at a cost of thousands of extra dollars. Or you can take a proactive approach and do something different.

Better Career Planning Better Lifehttp://www.careercoachingforstudents.net

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl has helped thousands of students find a better way through the career exploration process that works.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – checkout the Summer 2013 special offer – 30-days coaching support with the Home Study student career coaching package.

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.

Student Resource Central 10x more useful than ConnectEDU, Naviance, Kuder, Career Cruisin or XAP


The Career Coaching for Students™ program has so much to it. Independent career coaches, high school counselors and college career center counselors are finding the assessments and strategies creating significant breakthroughs. We call this disruptive technology.

This article focuses on one part of the program that other programs minimize. Student Resources Central™ offers students and parents access to the best resources on the web. From career research, choosing a major, choosing a school, financial aid, scholarship research, college admissions and application process to the latest in resume portfolios, this portal to the vast unlimited resources on the web has it all. The website sprinkles advice throughout. The organizational layout enables the user to go exactly where they need to within two clicks.        SRC Welcome Page

Below are screen shots of the main tabs. Each main tab has subtabs that offer carefully selected resources. Click on the screenshot to see a larger view to read the subtabs.

Criteria for a resource to be included in Student Resource Central:

Quality of information. Including the source, we don’t think it helps you to receive bad, biased, out-dated or partial information.

Agenda-free. The recommended resources are not operating a marketing data collection site that will use your personal information to market their sponsors.

Ease-of-use. There are plenty of web information pages. Just do a simple search on one topic and you’ll find millions of pages. Which are really worthy of your time? How much time will you have to spend shuffling through hundreds of pages before you get to the right pages of information? With SRC, you’ll quickly find your way through any webpage we direct you to.

Several great take-action recommendations

Several great take-action recommendations

 

Career Coaching for Students extensive library of worksheets, videos, and more

Career Coaching for Students extensive library of worksheets, videos, and more

The most extensive Career Research portal on the web - and easy to use

The most extensive Career Research portal on the web – and easy to use – including several extensive career video libraries.

Education Research that gives you what you need - like college freshman retention rates and graduation rates

Education Research that gives you what you need – like college freshman retention rates and graduation rates

Straight scoop, how to and information with integrity is what the Financial Aid and Scholarship resources are about. Most scholarship websites are nothing more than marketing websites. Not at SRC.

Straight scoop, how to and information with integrity is what the Financial Aid and Scholarship resources are about. Most scholarship websites are nothing more than marketing websites. Not at SRC.

Writing a resume and developing interview skills are just the beginning. So much for you to leverage including career advice videos.

Writing a resume and developing interview skills are just the beginning. So much for you to leverage including career advice videos.

Using social networking sites is key to career research, getting inside information about colleges and universities, finding internships and landing the first job out of college. The latest in using Portfolios is reviewed with a list of free cloud-based portfolio apps.

Using social networking sites is key to career research, getting inside information about colleges and universities, finding internships and landing the first job out of college. The latest in using Portfolios is reviewed with a list of free cloud-based portfolio apps.

If all of that isn’t enough, Student Resource Central is including the Life Skills for Students™ program too – for the one price.

The good news is that if you’ve purchased the Home Study Personal Edition of Career Coaching for Students or engage one of the licensed facilitators for a one-on-one service or workshop in your area, you receive Student Resource Central automatically. Purchasing the full package is the best way to go.

However, if you don’t want to buy the entire Career Coaching for Students program and receive the cool assessments and student binder, Student Resource Central is available, for a limited time, at a ridiculously cheap rate. The same rate applies for families or teachers wanting to use the resources for an entire class.

After comparing to other offerings, it becomes obvious that those other programs are trying to do the minimum while maximizing profits. Student Resource Central – well – is just simple, common sense that everyone can benefit from.

 

Warning: Campus Career Services NOT There to Help Students Choose a Career


B-Schools With Career Services That Rock—MaybeBusinessweek conducts a survey of college career centers each year. The way they wrote the article (see link), apparently college campus career services are not expected to assist students in choosing a career. So do you go to academic advising for help? Not really. They refer you over to the career center.

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Excerpt from the Businessweek article:
One of the more perplexing things about business school career services is that student perceptions of how good a job their school is doing often bear no relation to the school’s real-world performance at placing students in high-paying jobs.

But wait, maybe there’s hope
Based on the survey data, students who took the Businessweek survey (summary article at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-13/b-schools-with-career-services-that-rock-maybe) consider career services to be more than just placement and salaries.

In fact, the services include much more, from organizing career events on campus to connecting students with alumni who work in their targeted industries and providing help on job applications and résumés. Students who rate their school’s career services highly—notwithstanding mediocre success in the job market—are effectively giving them an “A” for effort. So if you’re looking for schools where you’ll get lots of help in your job search, consider those on our “best” list—you may not land your dream job, but it won’t be for lack of trying.
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Many career centers offer career counseling. Just keep in mind the “counselor” you are working with may be a grad student who has never had a job outside of the college. Or the counselor’s skill set may be stronger around how to write an effective resume than how to understand your talents and identify careers that are ideally suited to your talent makeup. Even if you are aiming for a business school education, there are many career paths that your education will support that you are less or more suited for talent-wise.

So where does a student go for assistance in choosing a career?

Countering College Student Objections to Joining LinkedIn


LinkedIn5 COLLEGE STUDENT Objections to Joining LinkedIn

While it is true that some college students may be beyond help, below are some excuses you can meet head on. To support students, my connections exceed over 2,000 which connect me to over 17 million on LinkedIn. I use my connections to help both high school and college students find people in their career of interest as part of the Career Coaching for Students program (high school program or college student program).

Your key to success1. “Creating a LinkedIn profile takes too much time” is a common complaint; however, creating a profile is actually a motivational exercise. Students can easily copy and paste their résumé to their LinkedIn profile and revise it from there. Once their profile starts to fill out, they begin to feel better about their developing profile.

2. “I don’t have time to add a LinkedIn update once a week?” Posting an update once a week is not that hard to do. With most students now on Facebook and Twitter, posting an update takes the same effort. It’s as simple as commenting on a topic such as something interesting being covered in a core course that aligns with your career direction, attaching an article, posting a great quote, letting people know what you are up to, etc.

3. “I don’t think people in my occupation use LinkedIn” might have been a valid point two or three years ago. Some occupations, namely the trades, were slower to jump on the LinkedIn wagon. Today, people in all industries and all types of work are on LinkedIn. With the number of connections I have, I love taking friendly bets on this false perception. I’ve won every bet.

4. “There’s no way I can get 50 connections” is an interesting challenge. LinkedIn allows users to download contacts from their e-mail account from the beginning of registering for membership. One just has to select the members they want to invite and soon acceptances and invites will come their way. An exercise I do with high school and college students is to have them write down on a worksheet everyone they know (friends, extended family, parents of friends, professional contacts). I then poll everyone to see how many they wrote down. In a 5 minute time limit, the average student writes down between 30 and 50 names. I then ask them if it is reasonable to expect each person they wrote down to have the same number of contacts. We then do the math. Using the least (30), the math looks like this: 30 x 30 = 900. Each of us can easily get something between our direct contact count and the 900 within one week. For college students, making this a competitive challenge with a reasonable $$ prize for the highest number of contacts after one week generates amazing results.

5. “I’m just a college student.” LinkedIn will most likely not offer immediate gratification. This isn’t a sprint; it is more like a marathon. The smartest students will invest in the time to begin their lifelong network. They’ll be ahead of their classmates and will most likely receive more interviews and offers when the time comes for the payout.

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, professional career and executive/leadership coach and creator of the nationally recognized program Career Coaching for Students™ . Career Coaching for Students is available as a district-wide high school program, college program and in group and on-one-one offerings through certified career coaches throughout the United States, Canada and other countries. Contact Carl Nielson at carl@successdiscoveries.com or call 972-346-2892 to discuss specific needs. Or visit us at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net

Why You Will Fail


Larry Smith is a different kind of inspirational speaker. His presentation on TEDx is so entertaining and insightful I felt compelled to post it on my blog. If you are a parent, please watch the video. If you are a student, please watch the video. If you watch the video, share comments here.

Throughout his three-decade career at the University of Waterloo, Larry Smith has inspired legions of students to take up the mantle of economics with his passionate and homespun tales of economic wizardry. A renowned story-teller, teacher and youth leadership champion, Larry has also coached and mentored countless numbers of students on start-up business management and career development strategies.

Having taught introductory microeconomics, macroeconomics and entrepreneurship classes, he recently celebrated assigning his 29,000th grade earlier this year.

Recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, Larry has also coached several of his former students to help them position and develop their businesses, the most famous of which is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the revolutionary BlackBerry wireless mobile smartphone. Larry also sits on the advisory panels of start-ups to provide his guidance on financing and negotiation with investors and venture capitalists.

Watch the presentation on TEDx.

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, professional career and executive/leadership coach and creator of the nationally recognized program Career Coaching for Students™ . Career Coaching for Students is available as a district-wide high school program and in group and on-one-one offerings through certified career coaches throughout the United States, Canada and other countries. Contact Carl Nielson at carl@successdiscoveries.com or call 972-346-2892 to discuss specific needs. Or visit us at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net

How to Stand Out


Jeff Haden (Inc. Magazine and Business Insider) posted two articles that any college student (and high school students for that matter) should use to “audit” their resume and their elevator speech. I’ve provided highlights of the main points here with my own bits of advice. The full articles are:

6 Ways Successful People Stand Out by Jeff Haden

10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself by Jeff Haden

Let’s face it. Your resume is a frustrating document to write. Do you include details or keep it high level? Do you include all work history or just the relevant stuff for the position you are applying for? Is one page the rule or is it best to have multiple pages?   The article “10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself” makes some very valid points. But how do you describe yourself? As Jeff states in his article, the 10 ways to describe yourself are great for others to say about you but probably not okay for putting on your resume.

At the end of this article, I’ll offer a complimentary assessment that will give you words to describe yourself. Yes, putting a few descriptors on your resume isn’t wrong, just don’t put words that are too general. My rule of thumb is, “if you are using a descriptive word because you think it is what the employer is looking for then you are misusing the space in your resume.

Haden’s 10 Words You Shouldn’t Use

Motivated – A better word might be “self motivated” which can be substantiated by things you’ve done.

Authority – Taking charge and leading (position authority) or having exceptional expertise (knowledge authority) need to be self-evident in your resume. A better strategy might be a statement like “Recognized for my leadership on the xyz project.” or “Recognized for my research on the zyq study.”

Global Provider – This may not be applicable to students, at least not right now, but many students have taken advantage of a Study Abroad program. This doesn’t make you a global expert. List the overseas period and describe what it gave you.

Innovative – Some people actually are innovative. That can be a good thing or a curse depending on the job. Some bosses don’t want a young upstart coming in and challenging or changing everything. They want you to learn. Employers want to know you are able to appreciate and follow their policies, procedures and work strategies. A better word might be creative if you were solely responsible for something new and creative that was recognized. However, that word has been overused.

Creative – We gave this one away as part of Innovative. Overused is the issue. Just be sure you have been recognized for something special. If not, don’t bother using it.

Passionate – This has no value. However, in the assessment report you might see “customer focused” or “results oriented” or “goal oriented”. Use those if you have a story to connect the word to.

Unique – Everyone is unique. I don’t see this word used too often but if I did, I think I’d file the resume in the round file.

Guru – Even if you could substantiate this some how, a student or recent grad isn’t a guru in anything. Be a learner.

Incredibly… – This is way too informal and is an exaggeration word. Avoid all words that exaggerate what you are trying to say.

Words that Work

If you’d like to take an online assessment to find better descriptors for your resume and for your interviews, go to http://www.ttisurvey.com///142181FUW This assessment takes about 20 minutes (2 parts @ 10 minutes each). The report is approximately 46 pages and will come directly to your email.

Haden has also made a list of 6 ways to stand out. There are many ways to stand out. I saw a person with pink and yellow hair. Yes, they stood out. Many young people today are  getting tattoos. To stand out from an employer standpoint, get into the recruiter or hiring managers head. What if you were them? What would you be looking for in a new hire?

Haden’s 6 Ways to Stand Out

Be first, with a purpose – From showing for the interview, to finding the job opportunities before they are posted on the company website. A position is officially approved and being recruited for 10 to 15 days before it gets any public exposure. Also, some companies have a policy of posting a position for as much as 30 days internally before posting it publicly. Make it your business to get the inside scoop from current employees and managers at the company you want to get hired. A great starting point is LinkedIn. But you have pursue that rich networking tool with purpose.

Be known for something specific – My son was advised to play down some of his high school accomplishments in his resume by a visiting industry mentor. The fact that he was accepted to and graduated (June 2012 –  and yes I’m very proud) from a prestigious university “assumes your high school years were impressive.” Whether it is high school or college stuff, be known for something! If you are currently in high school (or a parent of a HS student), be involved in something. I recently provided career coaching to a group of HS students (see Career Coaching for Students) and one student took this advice to heart and met with the school counselor and principle of the HS to request formation of a Poetry Society/Club. Stating on your college application resume “Founded and served as President of the Poetry Club” is what colleges and employers like to see. Just be sure you are able to say something about what you did after you founded it, such as, “grew first year membership to 48 students” and/or “Held 8 club meetings where 25 student-written poems were presented.”

Create your own side project – Integrating the project with another activity makes it exponentially easier and more likely to be completed. Many students are critical of, or sarcastic about, students that are in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts but colleges and employers value the experience. Both of these organizations have an “ultimate level” (Eagle Scout or Gold Award respectively) that is usually attained during high school that includes a significant project.  My daughter was president of the ecology club and also achieved the Gold Award by designing and building out the grounds as part of a “Greenhouse Enrichment Project”. This required fund raising, organizing volunteers and working with the high school administration for approval and support. The fact that she was involved with the Ecology Club gave her the ability to offer service hours to club members. Getting volunteers was easy.

Put your muscle where your mouth is – Don’t talk about what is wrong, even if the interviewer asks you to describe something that someone else screwed up. When put in that awkward situation, always share a situation or problem that you were at least partly responsible for delivering the solution – even if you were the one that screwed it up. Being part of the solution is what everyone wants.

Show a little of your personal side – Personal interests help others to identify and remember you. For many interviewers, asking the proverbial “tell me about yourself” can lead to all kinds of responses. Stay focused on the purpose of the question and environment you are in. If the interview is a standard 30 minutes, and you talk for 10 minutes about “who you are”, it is likely you won’t be getting the job or internship. Be prepared for how to “share a little.”

Work harder than everyone else – There is a book titled “Only the Paranoid Survive” by Andy Grove, ex-CEO of Intel, that gets this point across and then some. If you are in the right major and career for you, (or soon will be) this isn’t a hard thing to do. If you feel apathetic about your major/career choice, now is the time to do the work to find your passions. Working harder than everyone else should not be a chore. Look for the career that you can say “I can’t believe they pay me to do this stuff.”

Carl Nielson is an organizational development consultant, professional career and executive/leadership coach and creator of the nationally recognized program Career Coaching for Students™ . Career Coaching for Students is available as a district-wide high school program and in group and on-one-one offerings through certified career coaches throughout the United States, Canada and other countries. Contact Carl Nielson at carl@successdiscoveries.com or call 972-346-2892 to discuss specific needs. Or visit us at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net