For college students it’s hard to get excited about career services . They’re inundated with classwork, Snapchat and their social lives. Taking the time to consider their futures is not a first priority. Moreover, the thought of life after college can bring on anxiety for students. It’s scary to have to think about what life will hold after college, when the last 14 years of your life has been within structured education. It’s not easy to change pace.
That’s why we need to approach the beginning of career services as an opportunity to get students excited and engaged in their career paths. Here are five steps to accomplish that:
1. Create a Simple first step to Career Services
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and with career services we want that somewhere to be Freshman year, not senior year. One way to ensure that students don’t wait until the last minute to get engaged with career services is to create a simple first step to make a connection.
Even a small first step in the first year provides career services as a context for their academic lives and ensures they’re aware of careers services in general.
2. Make the First Step Frictionless
One of our favorite theories at Awato is proximal goal-setting. Proximal goal-setting is the concept of doing a clear, simple task that is right in front of you instead of concentrating on a big distant goal that is far away from you. For instance, it’s a lot easier to say “hey let’s go climb that hill outside” than it is to say “in the next two years, I am going to train, plan, travel and then hike Mount Everest.”
What’s hard about the Everest goal is that your mind goes racing on all the things you’ll have to do: training, saving money, buying the equipment, taking time, traveling and hiking. It’s exhausting and a little scary. But, with a proximal goal you can just walk outside and climb a hill.
For careers, trying to get someone to sit down and think about what they want to do for the rest of their lives is telling them to prepare to climb Everest. It’s huge, distant and scary. Instead, we want to set proximal goals for people that are easy and frictionless. Don’t worry about the future just do this small thing, then we’ll do another small easy task.
3. Make the First Step Fun, Engaging and Rewarding
The best part about climbing a small hill is the satisfaction you feel when you get to the top. The faster you can get a person to a feeling of satisfaction, the more likely they are to perform the next action.
The best thing you can do then is to come up with a simple rewarding activity that someone can do quickly and feel good. Then you can leverage the good will to set another proximal goal for them.
Fun career assessments like our dynamic assessments, workshops, and meet and greets are fun and engaging first steps to career services.
4. Launch your First Step
Now that you have a first step, you need to get it out there. Nothing motivates a student like a requirement, so it‘s best if you can get your first step ingrained in a class, orientation or First Year Experience program.
We’ve found that educators are more than willing to do incorporate career services into their offerings when they know that the inclusion of career services will positively affect students academic performance. If you are looking for some talking points around this, check out our white paper on using career services to increase retention. A great strategy for getting students introduced to career services is to ingrain career services in something they are already doing.
If you can’t make your first step required, you should focus on making it enticing and known. You’ll need to put on your marketing hat for this one. What do your students care about? What gets them out of their dorm rooms?
Simple things like food or promotional items could act as a way to get some student in the door. One way or another, you’ll want to make sure people know your first step is available.
5. Re-engage Students in Career Services Again and Again
Now that you’ve made your first step into career services and launched it, you’ll need to repeat the process over and over again. Ideally, you have a concept of the interaction points you want to have students go through.