Career Fairs help, but conversations in the real world are still needed.

It occurs to me that, by and large, we don’t do a very good job of preparing college students for the real world.  One of my favorite parts of my job is when students come meandering into my office and say, “I need some advice” (though they often phrase it differently and incorporate several um’s, y’know’s and like’s).  It happened twice today (which makes it a good day).

What I realize is that students seem to believe that if they get a degree, there are jobs out there waiting for them.  Do we lead them to believe that?  Do their parents?  Does someone honestly believe that and tell them that?  Or is it because they are the “Entitled Generation” (as so many are hasty to label them)?  Do they think that because they want it (a job), someone will automatically give it to them?  Or do we (“we” being professors, parents, mentors, guest speakers, industry professionals, etc.) just not do a good enough job of explaining the arduous process of going from college to the real world?

I like this blog post: “8 Tips to Help Recent College Students (and Others) Find Jobs” I like it so much I posted a link to it on our college program Facebook page.  How many students read it may be another story.

Maybe it’s because I teach in the hospitality industry, but I feel compelled to remind students that jobs are not a commodity on a shelf – you order one on Amazon, it arrives, and you try it on.  If it fits, you keep it.  If not, you trade it in for another.  No, jobs are positions in organizations made up of (wait for it…) people!  So the lowest common denominator (no, I don’t teach math) is people.  So go talk to people, I tell them.  Call people up and say “I want to do what you do.  Can I buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain about how to break into this industry?”

It seems like common sense to me and yet students instead say “I went online to ____ job site and sent out 150 resumes and got no responses.”  Really?  No kidding.  So I’m encouraging students to contact people–adults, grown ups, professionals.  Those of you reading this may be those “people.”  So if one of my (or someone else’s) students call you and say “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” please say yes.  Help them out.  Give them a dose of reality, good or bad.  And…don’t let them buy the coffee.  Help a starving college student out.

Thanks.  Carpe real world!