The school year has officially began and I couldn’t be more excited! I love meeting with new students and reconnecting with returning ones. It’s always a fun time to hear about students’ experiences and summer opportunities. It’s important to begin right away to develop a rapport with new students and continue a positive one with others. Career coaches, need students to know from day one that career development is important. There are many activities coaches can participate in to meet students.
- Send a welcome letter before students arrive on campus to let them know career coaches are on campus ready to serve. Discuss the student’s major and the career exploration process to help students achieve goals.
- Host a career lunch event as an informal “meet and greet” for students to stop by and see you and find out what the career center does. Follow up with a thank you letter to all of “your” students who attended. This follow up can open the door for students to set up a first meeting. In this thank you letter, also ask students to send back a mini bio about themselves: major, subjects they enjoy, hobbies, other interests in music, movies, and anything else they want to share. Tell them about yourself so they can get to know you as well.
- At a first meeting with new or returning students, make it informal. Talk about the summer, what’s new, how they chose the college or university, etc. Meet students where they are- some may be ready to discuss career goals and plans; others are just trying to adjust to college Set up for students to take any career assessments your career center has, this provides an opportunity to meet again and discuss the results.
- Participate in any extracurricular activities that you can to let students see you outside of the office as a “regular” person beyond your job title.
- Lastly, take opportunities to go into classes and speak with students on various career topics such as resume writing, interview tips, and how to market yourself. This is a great way for students to ask questions and your credibility as a career coach and a resource for them.
All of these opportunities involve talking to students and opening up the communication lines. Students want to know that career coaches care and when they understand that, they will be willing to start a conversation. Students will want to meet with you and share their goals and dreams. They will seek out your advice and help. Students will begin to be an advocate for you by telling their friends about how their career coach has helped them and this will be a way for even more students to visit the career center.
What have you done as a career coach or educator to start the conversation?
Hanna DeBruhl has been in the career development field for almost 10 years. She is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) and currently serves as a career coach at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina. Hanna prepares students for the workforce through on-one-on coaching, classroom presentations, and on-campus workshops on various special topics. Previously, Hanna worked as a career specialist on the secondary level, teaching career exploration courses and connecting community speakers to educate students on various career fields and job oppotunities. Connect with Hanna on Twitter @HannaDeBruhl | LinkedIn | Personal Blog