Director of Career Development Jane Nini identifies a variety of skills gaps. One of the aspects of the skills gap focuses on the fact that college students are not career-ready and, in turn, have trouble getting jobs.
On a national scale, Elizabethtown College has a better career development program than other institutions. There are many resources that students can use and multiple programs to help prepare students for the workplace.
Nini suggested that Etown has a good standing compared to its counterparts in the mid-atlantic region, but there are always areas for improvement.
College students lacking skills or being unable to accurately present them is a problem we face in today’s career world.
“It’s not just a career services area,” Nini said.
When we look to the college community to ask who directs students the most in career preparedness, Nini references the popular saying “it takes a village.” In other words, it takes the whole community to have a successful career plan at the College.
Students also look to their individual department mentors and advisors for the important opportunities that can influence a student’s career path.
A number of skills that employers seek are often considered “soft skills,” such as leadership and communication skills, that cannot always be quantified.
“Students need to describe their experience in a way that demonstrates they have these skills,” Nini said.
“Sometimes students don’t think about the power of giving examples.”
Nini advises students to think of solid examples to show potential employers they have the necessary skills.
As far as professional skills go, creating a resume and having a professional presentation are just two of the skills that can give a good first impression.
Career Services can work with Etown students in a variety of ways, from helping to create effective resumes and cover letters to helping them establish a professional appearance through mock interviews and good dining and etiquette skills.
In advising students to have the best presentation possible, Nini suggests preparing through partnerships with a mentor or advisor. Co-curricular activities are often another good way to network and exhibit skills outside of the traditional setting.
In an ever-changing work environment, current students arguably have to prepare for changes, not just in their fields, but also economically and through the emphasis on technology.
The advice Nini gives to students worried about the changes in the workforce is to remain flexible.
“As demand changes, think about adapting,” Nini said.
Nini continued that it is good to be open to new experiences or situations, and it is also helpful for students to try new things. Students should always be expanding their skills, even after they have a job, to keep up with the qualifications or certifications that they need.
In addition, when people move on from their current job, there may be different skills they should have for their next job.
“You have to be ready,” Nini said.
According to a study that appeared in Forbes, millennials in today’s market are changing jobs around every two years.
Nini encourages students to apply for jobs even if they do not fit the requisites listed. She also recommends that students reach out to their academic department and take advantages of internships and networking events.
First-years are also recommended to attend networking events and internship fairs to ask company representatives questions and to help get better prepared for the future.
It is best to start early in the process of getting a job, even searching as early as November for a summer job.
For many seniors, the idea that it is too late to start their job search may be an issue, but Nini says that this is never the case.
“It’s never too late,” Nini said.
There are a variety of free online sources that can help students gain knowledge in a particular area of interest.
Furthermore, the services that Career Services provide continue on into a student’s alumni years.
Career Services suggests students establish a network through extra-curricular activities and websites such as LinkedIn. Another way to get experience is job shadowing, which can establish more contacts for networking.
For students still unsure of a career they want to pursue, it is recommended they utilize sources such as Myers Briggs tests and think about what jobs give them the most satisfaction.
“I wish there was a formula, but you just have to get out there and try new things,” Nini said.
There are also a variety of events and classes Career Services holds that can be beneficial to students looking for more career advice.
Feel free to stop into the Career Services office and make an appointment to chat with someone about the many options for students.