3 Points That Are Key to Students Developing Realistic Career Expectations


There will always inevitably be some students who assume that having a college degree will guarantee them their dream job after graduation. As career services professionals, it’s your job to prepare them by exposing them to several realities about what the job search after graduation will actually be like. Instill these ideas in your students before they get their cap and gown so they can enter the job market with realistic expectations.

The Competition Is Fierce.

For every entry-level position a recent graduate applies to, there are usually 200 or more other applicants who are similarly (or better) qualified for the job. Students need to worry about building their resume long before they graduate so that theirs makes it to the top of the pile. Emphasize the critical importance of internships, relevant part-time jobs in their field, and extracurricular projects that will make the experience section of their resume shine. Make sure you offer plenty of workshops that revolve around resume and cover letter-writing, interview skills and networking to better students’ chances of making the final cut for the jobs they’ll be applying for after graduation.

They Can’t Take Rejection Personally.

The job market is not always kind, and students will more than likely receive several rejection emails before they are presented with a job offer. The worst thing a recent graduate, or anyone, can do is become so discouraged with the process that a negative attitude begins to creep its way to the surface. Interviewers will pick up on it, and further rejection will continue to feed the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remind students that there is only so much they can do to be selected for a position, and the rest of it is often out of their control. As long as they are fully confident that their resume, cover letter, networking habits and interview skills are the best they can be, that’s about as much as they can do. Sometimes the deciding factor in being offered a job is simply just luck. Teach your students early that the trick to handling rejection is to learn from any mistakes they might have made, make any necessary changes, then let it go and continue to persevere.

They Are Not Likely to Start “At the Top.”

This is an important concept to instill in your students, especially if they are pursuing a corporate career. Way more often than not, a recent graduate’s first position in their field will be an assistant-level position with a considerable amount of administrative or otherwise not-so-appealing duties. Students need to realize now that the only way to move up the ladder is to succeed in every position they have, even if it’s not exactly what they were hoping for. If they give it their all to excel “at the bottom,” they have a far better chance of eventually advancing to “the top.”

Higher Ed

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