/ Asked by Suzanna
I am a Graduates Assistant at Western Illinois University's Career Development Center and I am currently trying to restructure our career development/preparation course. This course is offered to upperclassmen (juniors &seniors) at the university level. In order to make sure I am being intentional in this process I would like to collect some feed back from employers. What do you all believe participants in a career preparation course should learn?
Answered by Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, Inc., on Monday, September 30, 2013
It s a great topic and I suppose one could take this several directions depending on how far "in the future" you want to tackle.

I will take a more holistic, 30,000 ft view on the subject, rather than "how to develop your career in the 1-3 years following gradution".  Given this, I define a successful "career preparation course" for soon to be college grads as containing the following:

-how to read a P&L

-some amount of business accumen around how the Enterprise is organized, and example of how various functional careers have successfully developed (ex: gen mgt, finance, IT, engineering, communications, etc.).  This should show that careers are not developed in a linear fashion, they involve, over decades, involving lateral moves to gain breadth of experience.  Using live examples of Management in the organization, and what their career path looked like is very helpful

-understanding of what "stumbling blocks" exist to employees progressing, and how to learn the skills necessary to avoid those

-understanding of what behavioral competencies are required at various stages in your career, and that as a 25 year old there are behaviors which are critical for your success before you can earn the respect and be promoted to jobs of bigger scope and responsibility.  Also understanding that the behaviors expected at  the individual contributor, manager, and executive levels are very different.  The course should focus on activities which develop the critical few competencies for early career/individual contributors

-understanding the role the employee has in managing his career, vs manager.  Also what "resources" are available

-learning to accept developmental feedback and "act" on it responsibly

I'm assuming you also have the basics on how to write a resume, dress/interview effectively, communication skills before, during and after an interview already on your list

Good luck!
Answered by Jennifer, Hiring Expert at Verizon, on Friday, October 4, 2013
Definitely agree with the suggestions above. In addition, I would recommend-
- Understanding networking- how to leverage networks at your company, from school, through social media, etc.
- How to select the right organization for you- not just looking at salary but really understanding the culture, room for growth, total benefits package, training and development opportunities, etc. to make sure it is the right fit
- Understanding the need to take initiative-ask to be involved on projects, take ownership of your development, ask questions and provide your perspective
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, October 4, 2013
The basics are still important for such a course (resume writing, interviewing skills, communication skills, etc.), however, but what could set the course apart is teaching the students what to expect after they start a job.  For example, it is key for any new employee to learn the corporate culture of an organization and how to operate effectively in that culture.  This happens naturally over the course of time, but could be expedited by seeking a mentor or joining and participating in employee resource groups.  

It is also important for a new employee to understand how a company's performance management process works.  In most companies, an employee will be asked to establish goals and objectives and will be rated against their progress towards those goals twice annually (middle and end of the year).  The feedback received is not intended to be critical, nor should the employee take it that way.  The performance feedback is very important towards the development of the employee and all employees should understand this.

It is also important for new employee to understand that being flexible could be advantageous in their career growth.  Being flexible in terms of where you take a position, what types of challenges one is willing to take on, and in general, stepping out of one's comfort zone could set one employee apart from others.

Lastly, being very responsive is key.  The business world moves very fast and responding in a timely manner to another's requests is expected and necessary.

These are just a few of the items that I would suggest including in this course.                
Answered by Siobhan, Hiring Expert at Accenture, on Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Great question! I would recommend all students who attend a career preparation course have access to the following: resume building, resume critique, interview preparation, mock interview opportunities, seminars on professionalism and business etiquette, networking, job search strategies, appropriate use of electronic communication, career self-assessment (what am I interested in), and tips for effectively using the career center to find job opportunities. The more a student is able to prepare, the more successful they will be in the interview process! Thank you so much for the work that you do to prepare these students for the job search. - Accenture Campus Recruiting
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