By now, you have probably heard the buzzwords surrounding college graduates as needing to be “Career Ready.” There are seven attributes or skill sets that employers have indicated students should have by graduation. To brush up on these skill sets I would suggest reading previous articles in this series and become acquainted with these traits.
One of the competencies employers list is Career Management and is defined as the ability to identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. So how does one start this career preparation process and what does it look like?
You need to learn and be able to navigate and explore job options that relate to your skills and goals. Job opportunities may or may not fall cleanly within your degree area, though coming out of ERAU with a technical degree; this will probably be the case for your first job. Ask an engineer 10-15 years out if they are doing engineering and the responses may surprise you. Too often, I have heard a response of “I don’t know” when I have asked seniors, months from graduation, what industries, jobs, or career paths their degree could lead them on. You have worked hard earning the degree; put the time in to learn the possibilities that are there.
You need to learn how and take the steps necessary to pursue opportunity. Attend networking and professional conferences, company information sessions, and career expos. Get to know your professors outside the classroom and your career services manager. Those who are prepared to see and then pursue it gain opportunity. It often comes from the most unlikely resources.
Finally, you need to be able to self-advocate, put fear aside and tell people just how skilled you are in a confident and positive manner. A career can last a lifetime. How you prepare for and manage will play a large part determining the quality of it. The time to start preparing is now. Start it off right by learning and participating in all that is offered on your college campus. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”