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Welcome to The Next Step Career Coaching Blog!

On this blog, I will share my thoughts on career and student-related topics. Please feel free to chime in on any of the posts or send questions my way! I look forward to hearing from you.

Taking Action to Reach Your Goals, Dreams and Best Life

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Career | 0 comments

Taking Action to Reach Your Goals, Dreams and Best Life

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
–Goethe

Are you ready to see your dreams turn into reality? Can you let go of fear and create the life you want? Did you know that with conviction, planning, and support from others anything is possible?

Before you say, “Come on, it’s not that simple,” I can assure you that on some days I question what I just wrote. Years ago, when The Secret swept the country, I was not convinced that simply envisioning reaching my goal could make it happen. But as a life and career coach, I’ve had the opportunity to witness some pretty extraordinary accomplishments by my clients.

Taking action is the key

Here’s a bit of truth: when we begin moving toward our heartfelt goals with enthusiasm, even the slightest bit, the Universe begins moving toward us. The wheels of progress begin turning, once we show commitment to our goal. And committing is a much more powerful way of living, than waiting around and hoping.

No matter what you want to achieve, whether it’s a new house or a new job, it requires choice, action, and hard work from you (especially the hard work!). Choosing behaviors that support your dream, (as well as positive emotions and thoughts) can create amazing results. When you live your commitment, new opportunities will begin showing up, like they did with my client Lora.

True story about making it happen

For many years, Lora fantasized about finding and purchasing her dream home – a fixer-upper where she could use her talent for creating beautiful spaces. But every time she dreamed about it, she felt discouraged and overwhelmed by her financial constraints and the houseful of items that would have to be moved.

Her interest in reading and home decorating had made her current home a warehouse of books and extra furniture. No use thinking about a new house, not possible any time in the near future. When we met in 2013, I encouraged her to think about what steps, even tiny ones, she could take toward her goal.

She began selling items she didn’t want to take to a new home at a local consignment shop. Doing so gave her the opportunity to make extra money and pay off some debts, while getting rid of stuff she didn’t need. Even so, she continued to experience doubt about her ability to realize her dream.

After a year of consigning and careful financial planning, her finances improved.  Even though she still considered owning a new home as a “someday, maybe” goal, in July 2014 she was tired of waiting. Why not begin in earnest taking steps and see what happens? I’ve got nothing to lose. So Lora committed to obtaining her dream house within two years. But, how will I ever find something I can afford, in the area I want to live in?

On a hot day in July 2014, we resumed the brainstorming. Even with no affordable prospects in sight, what actions, large or small, could she take to support her desire and invite help from the Universe?

taking action

 Every step led her towards her goal

In November 2015, Lora moved into her dream home in the exact neighborhood she desired. Six months ahead of schedule! Here’s how it went down:

  • Immediately after our session, Lora reserved a self-storage unit and met with a real estate agent friend to get her current home show ready.
  • She started selling, donating or trashing items that she didn’t want to take to her new home.
  • She began reviewing real estate websites for fixer upper possibilities, requesting daily email updates on properties.
  • Twice a week, she recorded and listened to affirmations of what she wanted and how she would feel when she achieved it.
  • She connected with two friends who had recently created a house-flipping business and asked for their help in finding her fixer-upper. (Side note: John, one of the friends, had recently established some intentions of his own, to increase his business, and to establish stronger friendships.)
  • For six months, she and her friends looked at houses in all locations. They saw many that were WRONG. But Lora used her disappointment to fuel her commitment to finding the right one.
  • In October 2014, one of the house-flipper friends learned that he needed a bone marrow transplant. This news cemented his desire to keep living. So HE began to ramp up his activity on finding a home for Lora. The day before he was to go for the transplant he found Lora’s fixer-upper. It needed a few things to make it livable: to be moved 30 feet back from the busy road and a few rooms added on. But it would work. Best of all, it was located in Lora’s desired neighborhood.

Construction began on the house in February 2015, seven months after she reserved her self-storage unit. Other serendipitous events helped Lora reach her goal: a designer friend who was clearing out her inventory gifted her light fixtures. And her house-flipper friends offered her free construction materials from other houses they were refurbishing.

With commitment her vision became reality

Not long after she moved in, Lora found a vision board that she had created 15 years earlier. In the middle of the board was an image of a house on wheels, preparing to be moved. Lora had drawn an arrow to the woman standing in front of the house and written “Lora” underneath the photograph.

Your takeaways

  • Whatever you want, choose at least one action toward that dream every single day. Risk leaving the familiar to take one small step in supporting your goals, even if it takes more time than you think to achieve them.
  • To stay encouraged, use your daily planner or calendar to make daily notes about what choices you have made to support your dream. If your dream is true, this should be a pleasure and keep you motivated. Also, stay in touch with people who support you in attaining your goal.

Bottom line: start taking action. The movement will either create serendipitous events, or you will discover you really want something else and move in a different direction. Either way, it’s hard to steer a parked car, so get moving!

New Grads: Networking Tips for Success

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in Career, College | 0 comments

New Grads: Networking Tips for Success

So, you’re ready to land your first real job.

What if there was a way to set up your own meetings instead of waiting for companies to contact you?

What if you could learn about your intended career and job opportunities that could lead to a potential job on your own?

Good news! There is a way to take control of your job search. It involves developing a networking strategy to connect with all potential contacts. More good news: the majority of adults are willing to pay it forward and help college grads find work. You just need to ask.

Here are networking tips for recent grads:

Make a list of potential contacts

This list can include anyone who might be able to provide information about your desired career, work in your field of interest or connect you with the right people. Think about family members, college friends now in the workplace, past professors, former managers or coworkers as well as neighbors and family friends.

Seek potential contacts in your LinkedIn network by determining if your connections are connected to people or organizations in your field of interest. Simply search by company name or industry and ask your contacts to make an introduction.

Set up an informational interview

Don’t let the term “interview” intimidate you. It simply means talking to people about their jobs. Having a conversation with others working in the career fields you’re considering will help you decide if they are right for you. Learn more about informational interviews including a sample email request in our blog, The Best Career Decision-Making Tool.

Develop an elevator speech

So when you meet people, you’ll feel confident about what to say. You’ll want to include who you are, what you studied and where, and what type of work you’re looking for. Keep it simple. Remember to use a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, smile and be confident. Projecting yourself well can set you apart from other recent graduates who are seeking the same kind of job. Your “elevator speech” will serve you well wherever you meet potential contacts.

Be able to share your goals, skills and experience

networking tipsIn addition to introducing yourself, you’ll want to share your career goals, skills and the qualities you look for in a company. Think about all of your transferrable skills and experience like leadership roles, volunteer work, internships, summer jobs, and part-time work.

You may say something like, “I’m interested in a marketing position, so I can use my creativity and communications skills. I’ve had some social media experience at a summer job but am looking for an opportunity to learn a wide range of marketing strategies to add even more value to my employer.”

Know who you’re meeting with

If you’ve scheduled a meeting with a new contact, definitely check out his or her company website and LinkedIn profile to prepare. This initiative will show people you’ve done your homework and are serious about your job search.

Show interest in the person you’re talking to

“Tell me about your career. How did you land your first job?” Most people like talking about themselves and may be willing to share helpful strategies.

College graduates who show a genuine interest in the person they’re speaking with will have a better chance of gleaning valuable information. Listen attentively and ask follow-up questions; in other words, aim for a real conversation. Try asking open-ended questions that can’t be answered with yes or no.

Share how you can help them

If you’ve checked out a company’s website in advance of a meeting, maybe you’ve noticed an area where you could add value. If the company is not heavily involved in social media, maybe you could offer to help. Or if they have regular events, maybe you volunteer your event-planning skills. Depending on the company, offering your services could help you get a foot in the door.

Make sure you follow up

At all meetings, get business cards then follow up afterwards. If job opportunities were mentioned, ask if you can send your resume. And don’t forget the power of sending a simple thank-you note to help you stand out from the crowd.

Set a goal to meet with one person a week to stay active. And remember the primary purpose of networking is to expand your contacts. Don’t ask directly for a job. Share who you are and be thankful for any help. … Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be helping college grads find jobs.

9 Successful Ways to Find Your Career Path

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Career | 0 comments

9 Successful Ways to Find Your Career Path

Many people seek me out because they are unsure of the direction of their career. Oftentimes, people let opportunities create their career path instead of taking the time to truly think about what makes them excited to go to work every day. Some people consider changing careers to feel more fulfilled or to simply seek something new.

If you’re just starting out or ready to make a change, here’s valuable advice to finding your career path.

1. Think about what is meaningful and interesting to you

Ideally, we all want to spend our time doing what excites us and makes us feel good. So, grab a pen and make a list of every time you remember being utterly, happily absorbed in any activity. Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, suggests asking “What types of problems do you most like to solve? What knowledge of yours do you most like to display to other people? What newspaper or magazine articles do you most love to read?” for clues about your interests. Now see if you can group the key areas that bring you joy into possible career choices.

2. Consider all your skills

Don’t limit yourself to only your experiences at work. When you are thinking about your skills, consider all types of activities including volunteering, hobbies, and life experiences. For example, even if you don’t have formal leadership or program planning experience, founding a book club or organizing a fundraising event are ways that you have put those skills into practice.

3. Evaluate your strengths

Consider past work. What aspects of your previous jobs made you feel confident? Maybe you’ve always loved writing or you are very organized. When determining what’s next, it’s helpful to keep in mind what you’re good at. Focusing on your strengths can not only narrow down your career options but set you up for success.

4. Brainstorm with trusted friends, colleagues, or mentors.

They may be able to identify transferable skills you’ve overlooked or help you better articulate them in the future. Sometimes others can evaluate us better than ourselves.

5. Determine what you want from your career

Keeping your list of interests, talents and possible careers in mind, think about what’s important to you in a job and write that down too. Everyone has different priorities, and if you’re honest with yourself about what you want, you’ll have a better chance of finding a suitable career. Some examples of priorities include:

  • career pathMaking a certain salary
  • Living in a certain region or city
  • Traveling
  • Helping others
  • Being outdoors
  • Having work/life balance
  • Working for yourself

6. Take a career assessment

Assessments can help you determine what you’re good at or what you’re interested in. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a career assessment, I highly recommend it. When my clients are considering a career transition, I offer evaluations to help them determine interests, values, and aptitudes. Then we interpret results to narrow down options. Sometimes my clients are surprised to learn they have an aptitude in an unexpected area that they would not have known otherwise.

7. Read job descriptions

After you narrow down your list, take a look at actual job descriptions. Many jobs may sound exciting but when you actually look at the responsibilities you’ll get a better sense of what you’d actually be doing day to day. While you’re there, review the skills and experience needed to see if you’d be a good fit. I recommend visiting LinkedIn or job websites like Indeed.

8. Try an internship

Internships allow you to test-drive career fields and explore options before making a commitment. They can also help you build an important network of contacts and references for future job searches. And can even help you get a foot in the door at a company of interest.

If you’ve not been able to find a suitable internship, another option is to arrange to shadow someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in. If you ask nicely, you’ll probably find that plenty of companies are willing to let you do this.

Both internships and shadowing will provide insight into the reality of a job, so that you can see what sort of daily tasks you’ll be doing and how your possible career slots into wider business activities.

9. Reach out to others

Perhaps the best way to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs. LinkedIn is a great way to use your connections to reach people in fields of interest. From there, you can set up an informational interview to learn more. Who knows? You may end up meeting a colleague who becomes a mentor.

Remember, finding your career path is a marathon not a sprint. So take the time to find the best career for you – one you’ll enjoy every day.

How to Choose the Right College Major

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in College | 2 comments

How to Choose the Right College Major

It’s normal for students to panic over declaring an academic major. They worry about making the wrong choice or are unsure as to which major will give them the best all-around job prospects.

Here’s the good news: depending on their career interests, their choice of major may not make much of a difference (exceptions being career fields requiring a specific set of technical skills). The bad news? They have to decide what their career interests are.

Here’s my advice for your college student to help him or her through the decision-making process:

1) Take an up close and personal look at yourself.

college majorSure, it’s tempting and a lot easier to simply go with what others suggest, but I promise the effort will pay off.

Start with a simple question: “What do I want most in my future life and work?”

Make a list and then narrow it to your top three items. These are your values. Put them aside for a bit. Next, evaluate your aptitudes and interests to point toward majors and occupations that will likely be satisfying and rewarding. There are many tools and assessments out there to help with this. Lastly, do some research to see which of those occupations will meet your top three values and the courses needed to enter those fields. Voila! You’ve narrowed down your options.

Finishing this step could have saved Sam quite a bit of money and time: A politics major, he had just begun his junior year when I met him. It was “time to figure out what I want to do with my education”. It soon became clear that he really wanted to pursue a degree in engineering. Unfortunately, his college didn’t offer an engineering program. Now he had the difficult choice between staying at his current school or cutting his losses (in this case, thousands of dollars in tuition and fees) and transferring to another.

If you need more help, learn about finding your life’s purpose.

2) Study a subject you like.

Doing so will make the next few years much more enjoyable. Your grades will likely show it, which can create more opportunities upon graduation; White House internships, corporate training programs, and graduate schools use grade point average as a screening tool.

What’s that? What can you do with a history major?

The last time I checked, history majors were doing some interesting things in media, foreign service, and marketing, to name a few. A recent art history major translated her social media skills into a full-time corporate social media coordinator position. This leads me to the third and VERY important step…

3) Create and follow an annual action plan to develop marketable skills and experience.

Your degree alone won’t make you sought-after by employers. After all, thousands of new grads enter the job market each year with a newly minted Bachelor’s degree. In the latest NACE survey, these four attributes were at the top of recruiters’ most-wanted lists. Check out a few ways you can get them.

Leadership positions – Take on a leadership role in an extracurricular activity, to enhance your problem-solving skills.

Ability to work in a team structure – Participate in internships and part-time/summer jobs to demonstrate familiarity with corporate environments.

Ability to communicate well in writing – Take writing-centric courses to practice organizing and communicating your thoughts.

Analytical/quantitative skills – Take a course in data analysis or statistics, to learn how to interpret trends.

Matt entered his freshman year planning to be a science major, but discovered that he didn’t like it enough to endure three more years. A business major better fit his natural interests and aptitudes of sales and entrepreneurship. He had already started his own successful Internet business during high school, just because it was fun.

His sophomore year action plan looked like this:

  • Find ways to contribute to the marketing and sales aspects of the small business where he held a summer job.
  • Create a strategic plan for growing his own business, tracking his progress.
  • Run for treasurer of the archery club, his favorite campus activity.

Bottom Line: No one can truly predict the future of the job market. So, instead of chasing the right major, tell your student to invest in himself or herself with self-knowledge and marketable skills.

 

choose college major

The Real Reasons You’re Not Getting a Job Offer

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Career, College | 0 comments

Reason Number One: 

You think the interview is all about you.

The truth? It’s SO NOT about you. Well, it is… but in a different way. I’ll explain.

When was the last time a real live person sold you something? Say like, a car. Your salesperson likely took the time to assess what you really wanted and needed in a vehicle before seriously engaging with you. Let’s face it. Pointing you toward a Mazda Miata when you really need a family-size van won’t help them make a sale.

When we’re in job search mode we’re promoting a product, ourselves, to potential buyers. Employers are no different that the rest of us when we’re about to spend a wad of money. What compels us to purchase a certain car is our belief that it, above all others on the lot, will most closely meet our current needs. So we ask a lot of questions, do a lot of thinking and comparing.

Employers, too, ask a lot of questions. Those pesky interview questions, designed to reduce the risk that they’ll make the wrong choice and get a bad return on the thousands they spent recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.  So, your task in an interview is to explain how spending time and money on you will be a good investment.  How will you help them solve their particular problems, meet their most pressing needs?

So, how do you show an employer WIIFT (What’s in it for Them)?

1) Read the job description closely, noting what the company desires and requires in candidates.

2) Find current information about its goals, challenges, and latest initiatives. Look online, and talk with people familiar with the organization or its industry, ideally present or former employees.

3) Reflect on what you have in your experience, skills, educational background that matches up to number one and two.

4) Share specific examples demonstrating your areas of match, during the interview.

 

 

NEXT TIME: Reason Number Two

Cover Letters: From Good to Great

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Career | 0 comments

Contact The Next Step

If you groan at the thought of writing a cover letter, we can help. We’ll guide you in creating a good one and, once it’s finished, writing future letters will be a snap.

 Yes, you must tailor a letter to each job for which you apply. Using a one-size-fits-all cover letter is just not an effective sales tool. But using your own template and substituting appropriate information for each role makes the task a lot easier.

Read on for some tips to help your letters stand out.

Do

  • Read the job description carefully, noting the job tasks as well as the skills, traits, and experience the employer is seeking. Consider what you have in your background that matches up and make those connections in your letter. Use brief examples to prove that you have those qualities.
  • Gather intelligence about the organization online, at information meetings, and through personal connections. Relating the company’s latest initiatives to your interest can be a favorable way to begin your letter.
  • Make the salutation count. Where possible, address the letter to a specific person, even if you have to dig for the information online or by calling the company. If you just can’t locate it, use the generic “Dear Hiring Manager:” The impersonal “To Whom it May Concern: “ is never a good idea.
  • Proofread over and over. Ask others to do so. Employers are looking for ways to whittle down the number of potential interview candidates. Typos and grammatical errors convey that you don’t pay attention to detail when it’s time to put your best foot forward. So does forgetting to change out the company name, contact name, and address from a previous letter. Yikes!

 

Don’t

  • Be too casual. If your contact’s name is Jane Doe, address her with “Dear Ms. Doe” instead of “Dear Jane”.  Your future boss wants evidence that you know how to communicate professionally with clients and executives, so show your business writing acumen.   Likewise, lapsing into text speak (yes, that has really happened) can be a turnoff.
  • Go on too long. Keep your letter to one page, always. Yes, recruiters want to see how well you write, but they also want proof that you can deliver the message succinctly.
  • Make reference to what you don’t have. “Even though I don’t have the ______ you mention in the job description” is NOT the best way to sell yourself into the role you want. Focus on how your qualifications will add value to the organization and forget about what you don’t have.
  • Don’t begin every sentence with the word “I”. Mix up your sentence structure so that the letter is interesting to read.

 

Contact us today for a personalized cover letter consultation. We love letters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best career decision-making tool

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Career, College | 0 comments

The Informational Interview

 

Don’t let the term “interview” intimidate you. It simply means talking to people about their jobs. Having a conversation with others working in the career fields you’re considering will help you decide if they are right for you.

Career assessments can point you in the right direction; then when you need real time information, there is no substitute for the 30- minute informational interview.

 

It’s Easy

 Let’s imagine that you want to decide between pursuing advertising or sales for your next career move or internship.

  • Ask family, friends, colleagues, clergy, neighbors, roommates, anyone you know, who they know in these professions. Then, ask for permission to contact them, using your friend as a reference.
  • Send an email (see example below) or call the contacts, explaining who you are, how you got their name, and requesting a 30 minute conversation about what they do. If you live in close proximity, ask if you might treat them to coffee or a meal during your conversation.
  • Be prompt for your appointment and respectful of the 30-minute time frame. Conduct research on the industry and prepare questions ahead of time.
  • Follow up on any other referrals they give you.
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours of your meeting.

 

Sample email request for informational interview

 Dear Ms. Jones:

 My coach, Jack Travis, recommended that I contact you when he learned of my interest in the field of advertising. My name is John Cavanaugh. I’m a sophomore at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, considering major and career options. I’d like to learn more about the field of advertising and it’s job opportunities.

 Would you be willing to talk with me about your career path and the future of the advertising industry? If so, I would like to schedule a 30-minute meeting at your convenience. Meeting in person or by phone would work equally well for me. Thank you for considering my request.

 

Best Regards,

 John Cavanaugh

 

 

Still Not Convinced?

 

I’ll bet you are thinking…

 

I don’t want to bother people.

 Most people want to pay it forward. They remember what it was like to be making the same decisions you are. And let’s face it most human beings love to talk about themselves.

 

I want to do this on my own.

I hear this a lot from clients, especially students, who don’t want to rely on anyone else for their success.   Believe me, YOU will have to make career decisions and land the job on your own. It’s YOU who has to write an effective resume; it’s YOU who has to nail the interview; it’s YOU who has to follow up with potential employers.   You’re not asking for a job or a handout. You’re asking for information to assist you along the way.

 

An edited version of this post appeared on the University Career Services Career Corner blog, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nailing the Tele-interview

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 in Career, College | 0 comments

Nailing the Tele-interview

 

 

They are efficient and inexpensive tools. More than ever, phones and webcams are employer favorites for candidate interviews. So, update your Skyping skills.   Dust off your Google Plus account. Get ready to be interviewed by teleconference.

 The good news about remote interviewing:  You get to have notes in front of you – your resume, info you’ve gathered about the organization, a list of experiences and skills you want to communicate, and questions for the interviewer.  You get to wear comfy clothes. Although, one candidate told me that he performs better in interview attire, even though his interviewer can’t see him. Exception here: interview clothes are a must for a video interview!

The down side? You don’t get the non-verbal cues that tell you how you are being received.   Is your interviewer rolling her eyes or nodding in agreement? All the more reason to build up your confidence before the phone rings. Here are some tips for doing just that…

 Get Ready

Practice.   

I can’t stress this enough. There is an art and a strategy to interviewing well, and most of us aren’t natural masters of either one. One student told me that she would prefer to bomb important interviews and receive no offers, than to practice interviewing and receive critical feedback! Don’t be that girl. Get honest and supportive commentary about what you’re doing right, in addition to what (and how) you can improve. Schedule a mock interview with a career coach; it will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Get the endorphins flowing.

What do you do when you want to feel energized, yet relaxed? Dance to Kelly Clarkson power tunes (my personal favorite)? Run three miles? Meditate in your happy place? Do it. It’ll clear your head and calm the nerves.

Interview in a quiet place.

Roommates, family, and friends have got to go. Put out the DO NOT DISTURB sign.

Raise your laptop a few inches.

The screen will show your face straight on, much more flattering than the view from beneath your chin.

   Go

Stand up

throughout a telephone interview, if possible. Doing so will help you project energy and reduce the risk of sounding too casual, a real consideration when you’re communicating by phone.

Smile.  A lot.

Crucial positivity and enthusiasm will be heard in your telephone voice and show in your video face.

Use a landline,

and temporarily disable call waiting. Dropped calls and bad connections can worsen a case of nerves and frustrate your interviewer.

Send a thank you email or letter, within 24 hours.

Make a point you forgot to make, reiterate the reasons you’re a good fit for the job, and acknowledge the recruiter for taking time to talk with you. Doing so will mark you as the professional you are.

 

A modified version of this post appeared on HerCampus.com, February 2014 and careercorner.unc.edu, March 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To drink or not to drink…at a corporate recruiting event

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in College | 0 comments

Each year, my college-age clients ask me some version of the following question.  I share my advice here, in hopes that it will help others make good decisions.

“I’m a college junior.  Is it appropriate for me to have a drink at recruiting or networking events? I’m concerned about how it will look.”

Are you of legal drinking age?  Then, yes.

However, if you don’t typically drink alcohol, now is NOT the time to start. Loose lips sink ships, as well as relationships and job offers.

Not legal?  Then no, not appropriate. Since it is important that you present yourself as a law-abiding citizen.

 

So, how to navigate these waters?

Here are a few ideas:

  •  If you want an alcoholic drink, accept one and nurse it for the entire event. Save the party for later. You’ll stay focused and appropriately social without embarrassing yourself or your fellow networkers.
  •  If you don’t want an offered drink or you’re not of legal age, ask your host, bartender, or waiter for your favorite alternative, “Thanks, but I ‘d prefer Sprite if you have it.” They’ll likely take your cue and tell you about other options.

In either of these scenarios, if you’re worried about appearing uncooperative or unhip, consider this —

Leadership qualities are, according to employers, much desired and in short supply these days.   Using judgment and demonstrating commitment to your principles are easy ways to demonstrate that you are, in fact, a leader.

 

Originally published at HerCampus.com/Wake Forest

 

 

 

College Athletics Creates Model Employees

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Career, College | 0 comments

College Athletics Creates Model Employees

It’s been a painful month for college sports fans. Truly, there are many aspects of university athletics that need to be cleaned up. As we reel and recover from the recent revelations at UNC and West Point, I’d like to remind student athletes, and all of us, that participating in college athletics can be a positive thing. I’ve witnessed it in their professional lives, time and again.

Corporate recruiters delight in the prospect of interviewing athletes for entry-level positions. That’s because they possess many characteristics that employers seek today, easily transferring them from the playing field to corporate America:

Competitiveness – Athletes live to compete. It’s in their DNA. Staying viable in today’s business environment means having employees who are wired to do what it takes to “keep their team in the game”. Participation in institutional athletics teaches students to constantly scan the environment and adjust for changing conditions, not to mention assessing their rivals’ strengths and weaknesses, using the knowledge to their advantage.

Discipline – Mental and physical self-control is required for top performance. It involves showing up at practice day after day, training consistently in the off-season, resisting peer invitations for late night parties or illegal substances. Four years of this behavior results in a dedicated employee, who shows up, focuses on, and finishes the job, when others find excuses not to.

Excellent time management– Student athletes may devote up to 40 hours per week to practicing and playing their sport in-season. An added 15 hours of weekly class attendance plus necessary study time creates a job candidate who knows how to plan their work and work their plan.

Resilience –Some employers say that members of the Millennial Generation don’t know how to fail. What they really mean is that young people entering the job market today don’t know how to take a hit, regroup, and get back in the game. Not a problem for students who have played poorly one week, but must look ahead to next week’s big match. Most student athletes I know are incredibly humble. They understand that they cannot possibly know it all and continuously look for ways to improve their skills. Thus, they are open to receiving constructive criticism and training.

Team Orientation – Even though it’s a tired phrase, the words “team player” consistently show up on job postings.   There’s no better way to express the need for organization members to see the grand plan and their role in it. Without that understanding, there will be no trophy or increased profits.   Athletes refine their abilities to support the greater goal and absolutely despise failing their teammates. An as added benefit, they hold their colleagues (teammates) accountable for their performances, using positive peer pressure to produce results.

Leadership – Interviewers consistently cite leadership as an important trait for new hires. Once, as I helped a college senior prepare for a management trainee interview, he wondered aloud, “How can I convince them that I have leadership ability?” I reminded him that he was a tennis team captain, and he suddenly had numerous examples to share.

Participating in athletics prepares students to navigate adult life and the world of work. For their sake and ours, let’s keep the benefits top of mind in the coming months.