There comes a time when a student has to wean himself from his backpack and replace it with a laptop-bag. That transition is never easy and often results in underskilled employees who don’t know what office culture holds for them.
Many employers complain that even top students fail as working professionals.
Often, graduating students are not prepared for what is expected of them once they enter the corporate race. They’re stumped when they realize that textbook solutions are no match for complex business problems or that missing a working day has a graver consequence than cutting a lecture.
So how do we prepare students better?
Here are a few initiatives that career services professionals can undertake to ensure a smooth and seamless transition from campus to corporate life:
Foster skill development
What a candidate brings to the table is the single most important question that potential employers are interested in.
Irrespective of the industry and area of study, here are some skills that are expected out of a candidate in the current marketplace:
1. Computer literacy
Information management is one of the most underestimated jobs in an organization. A basic comfort level in operating computers and other electronic devices which students develop in college doesn’t represent computer literacy in a professional workplace. This is precisely why a lot of newbies are stumped when they have to update an excel sheet or create a client proposal. Today, every company that works with a management information system expects new hires to quickly adapt themselves to their system. Graduating students need to be trained to manage data software like Microsoft Office, Oracle, and Saas. They also need to be equipped with basic design skills which will come handy when creating business presentations and social media posts.
There are 3 key competencies that repeat themselves in many job descriptions: leadership, soft skills, and team management. Volunteering is a one-stop solution where students can hone the above skills. Besides contributing to community development, volunteering provides the opportunity to manage projects, work in teams, travel, and increase cross-cultural sensitivity. Global volunteering organizations like AIESEC, Model United Nations and Rotary International can offer many opportunities for leadership and team management.
3. Research skills
Research is a default role for many employees. Secondary research involves compiling data from the internet and existing publications. Although we belong to a wikipedia generation who can google their way out of anything, it may come as a surprise that what we know about internet research is just the tip of the iceberg. Power-Searching with Google is a free, self-paced course available online that provides hands-on training on how to get refined search results on google.
4. Business writing
An average work day is filled with either writing or consuming content – proposals, meeting minutes, reports, articles and an endless flow of emails. So how do you ensure that your message is effectively communicated in a day of information overload? Effective writing is not a gift you are born with, rather it’s a skill that you need to cultivate. Coursera’s High Impact Business Writing course is a definitive guide that trains employees on how to write for the global market.
5. Creating a career package
Once your students have expanded and refined their skill sets, the most important step is to put their abilities across to potential employers. A lot of times even talented individuals can’t land their dream job because of a poor resume or an average cover letter. Graduating students need to be trained on how to create a career package, which includes their updated resume, cover letters and work samples. Additionally, mock interviews are a great way of teaching students to portray themselves as the ideal candidate for the given job-description. Here is an insightful article on creating the ideal job resume which can exponentially increase a candidate’s selection chances.
6. Project management
It’s a good idea to introduce students to the need for project management, which is by far the most exhaustive and challenging tasks that they’ll need to get used to post college. Project management is a comprehensive process that involves product/service design, budget allocation, resource management and risk analysis. When an employee is given a project, they are expected to deliver it on time, within budget and as per client expectations.
Start training students in their penultimate year on various aspects of project management.
Prepare graduates for success within the corporate culture
A corporate job is a highly demanding space, and newbies often struggle with work pressure, maintaining social relationships and making the right career decisions.
Due to hectic work schedules, overwhelmed newbies find it difficult to take out time to upgrade their skills or plan out long-term career goals. It’s extremely important to educate grads on how corporate culture works and to introduce them to resources that will help them thrive and grow in their work environment.
New hires will get the best advice about managing work-life balance from the ‘been there, done that ‘ section of the workforce. Networking with fellow professionals literally opens up their horizons on varied career choices, be it dealing with a tough boss, achieving work-life balance or tips on how to scale the career ladder quickly.
A networking platform like Brazen chat events can connect diverse individuals from across a company’s spectrum.
Webinars with industry veterans
Once a student enters the corporate world, ‘What is your 5 year plan?’ is the most important question he/she will be faced with on a regular basis. Having a clear 5-year plan helps them make relevant career decisions at the right time.
Achieving their goals means asking some critical questions, such as: Should I be focusing on building my work-experience or focus on getting a master’s degree? Are my skills relevant in the long-run or are there chances of them becoming obsolete? What else can I learn in order to grow with this company?
Stepping into work life from college is one of the most challenging transitions one can make. The change is never easy, but the above guide can play a major role in discussing the transition with recent grads.