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8 Methods to Support Students in Finding Their First Professional Job

Posted by  Jeremy Branton

Colleges and universities help students learn, grow and build skills, but all too often, schools don't do enough to assist students in finding a job after college. Recent college graduates face a challenging job market, and they're more likely to find satisfying, fulfilling work if universities focus on building job search skills and awareness before the graduation caps are tossed. Here are eight ways universities can help students locate and secure their first professional jobs.

1. Provide Additional Training for Career Center Staff

Most universities have a student career or job center. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for the staffers at these centers to be inexperienced in the job search or career market. It's critical for universities to provide thorough, up-to-date training and support for career center staff. This ensures that any advice students get from on-campus job assistance programs is relevant, current and applicable to today's tough job market.

2. Offer Networking Training for Students

Getting a job in today's economy requires a diverse mix of skills. In addition to having the training and background for a given position, job seekers also need to know how to network effectively, build connections and foster relationships.

Universities need to provide networking training for their students. Offering networking training and support ensures that students are prepared to network effectively and can use the skill to build their contacts and find satisfying, long-term careers after graduation.

3. Start Preparing Students for the Job Search Long Before They Graduate

In addition to being difficult, teaching students how to find a job in their last two months at school is neither practical nor efficient. Instead, it's critical for universities to begin preparing students to enter the job market long before they graduate, preferably during their first or second year in school. This helps students ensure they've picked a major that allows for gainful employment and that they know what sort of career they can expect once they graduate.

4. Provide Mock Interviews and Interview Training

Interviewing is a skill as difficult as it is important. To assist students in finding good jobs after graduation, universities must teach students how to interview. Events like interview classes and mock-interview sessions are easy to put on and can be hugely beneficial for students preparing to enter the job market.

5. Encourage Students to Work During College

Part of the reason the job search is so difficult for many students is that they enter it having never worked before. While students in demanding majors may find it challenging to work full-time during college, encouraging students to gain job skills through part-time internship programs can be a hugely beneficial way to give them the skills needed to succeed in the post-graduation job market. Make sure you have a solid student management system in place to keep track of students progress, to ensure that part-time internships do not impact grades.

6. Partner With Companies That Hire Students

One of the most helpful things a university can do to support students in the job search is to partner with companies that hire students in various industries. Often, when students work internships with a company during school, they are hired by the same company after graduation. This partnership can help remove some of the insecurity from the job search and help students build long-lasting relationships with reputable businesses.

7. Build Realistic Expectations

Students need more than just a degree to land a fulfilling and satisfying career. Unfortunately, many students don't realize this and wind up disappointed when they find that the degree they worked so hard for isn't enough to secure employment. What's more, even a degree from a highly recognized university often isn't sufficient to help a student get noticed in a vast pool of candidates.

To help prevent students from becoming discouraged and disappointed, teach them what to expect from the job market. In today's world, finding a career can take weeks or even months, and students who understand what to expect are better prepared to weather the storm and keep pushing toward their dreams.

8. Teach Students to Recognize Which Jobs Are a Good Fit

Many students find themselves trapped in careers they hate simply because they did not have the knowledge or skill to evaluate an employer and decide if the position was a good fit or not. To avoid this, teach students to assess their managers, work responsibilities and workplace culture. 

This helps students decide whether a job is a good fit for their individual wishes, skills, goals and training. This, in turn, can help reduce disappointment down the road and prevent the student from bouncing from job to job.

Colleges Can Make the Job Search Easier for Students

While today's job market is a tough one, there are many things colleges and universities can do to help prepare their students to navigate it successfully. By teaching networking and interview skills and helping students understand what to expect during the job search process, universities can graduate successful, well-equipped students who have the skills and confidence to locate and secure rewarding careers they truly love.

Jeremy Branton

Jeremy is responsible for sales, market creation and direction for Education with particular focus on Student Information Systems in the UK.

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