Written By: Robyn Shulman, M.Ed.
While the unemployment rate continues to rise amongst the Millennial Generation, one thing is for sure: college students are not prepared for the future that awaits them after their hats are thrown in the air. They are leaving higher education institutions with inapplicable degrees, scarce or outdated career information, and a loan that will linger over their heads for many years to come. It is our job to make sure students have all of the necessary information before declaring a permanent major.
Here are some tips for improvement:
All students should be required to take ongoing courses in career awareness throughout high school. Students should be introduced to social media awareness (online reputation management by middle school). Should students choose to pursue college, career courses should be introduced immediately within the first year of school. Students should have the ability and knowledge to manage their online reputation early on, exposed to changes in higher education, so they can make well informed and educated decisions.
College is not the exact route for everyone, choices are now unlimited, and we need to embrace this education revolution. Pretending that change isn’t here does not fix the problem. This course can be modified for various grade levels. The proposed course includes the following components:
- Social Media: Changes to be made now, including, but not limited to: removing profanity, inappropriate pictures, messages, etc. Students should be taught how to move from a personal social media presence to a professional presence, with an understanding of the consequences of an ongoing and permanent virtual world.
- Choosing a Career: Students should be taught how to research careers to find those with anticipated need and future demand. They should also understand how to combine their passion with logic, as to choose the right career path.
- Networking: Students should be taught how to use social media professionally; using Linkedin, networking, reaching out, writing professional blogs, and starting and finishing internships are some of the most modern ways for students to find jobs.
- Branding: Students must know how to market themselves, and how to stand out from the crowd. The field is now filled with college graduates, and students must learn how to stand out amongst their competition.
Sound interesting? I’m developing this course right now. For universities that want high job placement rates, higher enrollment and retention, this course is a necessity. For secondary schools that truly want to guide their students, this course will provide the platform for making informed decisions about college. Contact me for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What else can colleges do to better prepare the Millennial Generation?
- Hire career staff who are up to speed on all of the topics mentioned above and know how to mentor students using these career strategies.
- Run online career events providing refresher tips, answering questions, ongoing and updated information, etc.
- Career centers can guide a student, however, it is up to the student to research, make decisions, and take action. The career center should provide the tools for the student to be able to make a wise choice.
- Hire instructors who understand these concepts, model these concepts and can teach these concepts in their classes.
- Career centers must stop providing outdated career information (no, you do not need an objective and hundreds of referrals on your resume anymore).
- Partner with local businesses to place students into internships that lead to permanent jobs.
- Remind students that a degree does not guarantee a job; it is up to the student to use their tools wisely, network, reach out and be found.
- Please, for the love of Linkedin, teach them how to use it, and to have an active presence now!
- Be honest, choosing a career field solely based on one’s passion may be difficult to find. Students must make decisions using both their heart and their head.
- Face reality. Unfortunately, a degree in English no longer tends to pay the bills as easily as a computer science or engineering degree.
- Incorporate social media in applicable courses, as professors are role models for students.
- Be sensitive and understanding about their needs. The Millennial Generation has grown up in a virtual personal world, not a virtual professional world. Teach students with kindness, understanding and compassion.