Gary Miller, executive director of The Career Center, pinpoints how your students can translate their college experience, in and out of classroom, into a meaningful career path:
Your students have a lot of varied experiences and gain a lot of knowledge during college. But, to a large degree, it falls to them to figure out how those experiences and gained knowledge are connected and to make personal meaning from them. So, it is not a headline-grabbing advice: encourage your children to reflect and synthesize knowledge and experiences. This could be among the most important things they can do to impact both short- and long-term success.
This kind of deep reflection and meaning-making can be hard to do. So, here are five questions students can ask themselves to help with the process. They can use these during and after experiences (and by “experiences,” I mean just about anything – class projects, volunteering, student organization work, studying abroad, interning, going to your part-time job, and so forth).
1. How does this experience connect to others I’ve learned or experienced?
2. What was the most challenging aspect of this experience, and what skills did I use with that challenge?
3. In what ways did this experience require me to communicate with others?
4. What mistakes did I make, and how could I have done things differently?
5. How did I interact with other people in this experience?
I recommend that students start a journal or blog and use a set of questions like these. They will learn a lot from doing so and be better prepared to integrate what they've learned into future experiences. Resume writing and interviewing also become easier when students do this kind of reflection. But, more importantly, what they experience and learn will have more relevance and meaning, and that’s truly what college is about!