“ As an NSCS member, you should seek out these resources and exploit them to the max.” How to Use This Guide A successful career is easier to find than you might think, but early preparation is absolutely key! You can’t start too early. All first- and second-year college students have abundant career resources at their fingertips, but many fail to take advantage of them. Don’t make that mistake. First, a little background: Well-resourced campus career centers, professional networks, business journals, employment websites, or personal mentors offer major tips for what freshmen and sophomores should be doing to ensure career success. This content is consistent, predictable, and appropriate. However, often it is one size fits all. There is little variance in the advice offered or in the recommended timeline for students to pursue specific activities, regardless of an individual’s circumstances. As an NSCS member, you should seek out these resources and exploit them to the max. However, because you are a high achiever, you have more opportunities to optimize your career potential beyond the core guidance offered to everyone. You are among the highest academic achievers! While that gives you a competitive advantage, there are some patterns of behavior among top students that can diminish the benefits of your scholarly accomplishments
You need to think outside of the box and leverage some additional tools, described below, to chart your path to success. We’ve developed a few key strategies for high-achieving students that you won’t necessarily find on other lists for first- and second-year students. Now, here are the top eight strategies, crafted exclusively for NSCS members, which you can do before your junior year to ensure your career success. A note on how this guide works: We’ve included eight strategies for success, as well as worksheets and questions for you to develop your Career Action Plan (CAP). As you work through each strategy, flip to the end of the book and complete your CAP questions for that strategy. This will help you take our strategies and convert them into easy, manageable action items for your success.
“ Explore your career options and the academic programs that support them.”
Strategy #1: Zero in on your #1 career goal. Explore your career options and the academic programs that support them. Make selecting the major that best supports your interests and passions priority number one! Talk to your campus career center about assessments that can help you understand your traits, values, and competencies relative to your career choice. Foster a relationship with a career counselor, and register for and commit to regular engagement with the services, resources, and advice offered. Flip to page 5 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #2: Pick your courses strategically, if possible. Many students don’t put enough thought into the classes they take. Each class you take can cost you thousands of dollars in tuition and time, so choose wisely. Reading job descriptions in your field will help you identify the knowledge and skills that are relevant to your career. If it’s not clear which courses align with these, speak to your professors and advisors, and seek out mentors in the field you’d like to work in. Relevant coursework is something that can help your resume stand out when applying for internships, especially since you likely don’t have as much professional experience at this stage in your career. Flip to page 6 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #3: Develop a Plan B. The best laid plans don’t always work out, often for reasons you can’t control. Make sure your Plan A is not so narrow that you can’t shift gears and re-direct what you’ve already invested in your future. The aspects of one career path that appeal to you almost always exist in another as well, and you should be flexible and ready to change if your first choice doesn’t work out. Flip to page 6 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
“ To get the most out of your college education, you need to plan ahead and take advantage of all the resources available to you.”
Strategy #4: Learn about and build your emotional intelligence (E.Q.). You have the grades and book smarts – but your future employers want you to also bring a high E.Q. to your work. Emotional Intelligence is the ability: 1) to assess and supervise your own emotions, thoughts, and self 2) to be aware of the emotions of others and of groups 3) to discriminate among emotions and thoughts and use this information to guide future thinking and actions. Seek experiences and relationships that will help you focus on your: Self-awareness Self-assessment Self-empowerment Crisis management
Problem-solving Positive thinking Communication Tolerance for others
Flip to page 7 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #5: Develop meaningful professional relationships with your professors. As a top student, you are uniquely positioned to capture the attention of faculty who are experts in your field of interest. Learn about their research, ask them for resources and contacts that can broaden your knowledge and insights, and stay in touch with them as you progress beyond their courses. They will provide valuable guidance along the way, and they will be able to offer recommendations or connections when you apply for internships, employment, and/or advanced degree programs. Flip to page 8 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #6: Start building your GiftedHire profile. To understand how your academic path and broader career goal can come together after graduation, you need to start connecting with employers for internships as early as sophomore year. Internships give you the insight, experience, and skills that will help you map out your career. The traditional ways of connecting with employers are restricted in what they offer – career fairs are limited to the employers who come to campus, and job boards overwhelm you with jobs you don’t want. To make this step easier for NSCS students, you’ve been granted access to GiftedHire, an exclusive platform for guiding high-achieving students to the right employers. Complete your profile, and you’ll be able to connect with amazing organizations with the click of a button. Flip to page 8 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #7: Network with professionals early and often, not only for the connections, but also to get a taste of the real day-to-day of potential career paths Remember this: older professionals love helping students! If you’ve never networked before, it might seem awkward or intimidating as a student to reach out to a professional. This shouldn’t worry you; you’re a high achiever with your whole career ahead of you – you could end up being a good connection for them as well. Plus, we’ll let you in on a little secret: people love to give advice. Make good use of that! So, how do you get started? Find local professionals on LinkedIn, and ask them politely for 15 minutes of their time on the phone. Ask your Career Center for alumni in your field that you may be able to speak with. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be happy to help you. Flip to page 8 to develop your action plan for this strategy.
Strategy #8: Track your projects and your progress toward achieving goals, and make sure you know how they are measured. The top candidates ultimately succeed by fully embracing each activity, observing and appreciating the value of its opportunities and challenges, and being able to articulate how it prepares them for their careers. Employers will ask about your extracurriculars, projects, and internships, and more importantly, about what measurable achievements you’ve had in those areas (not just checking boxes on activities completed). Use the Project/Achievement Action Plan at the end of this book to keep track.
Conclusion To get the most out of your college education, you need to plan ahead and take advantage of all the resources available to you. Unlike in high school, there is a lot more to consider than just your academic success. Your professional success will depend on the steps you take starting now. You’ve already made a great first step by joining NSCS and unlocking some of the best resources to help you do this. Now you need to make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunities available to you. Now it’s time to get started and build your action plan! Flip to the next page to get started.
Your Career Action Plan By: NSCS HQ Staff
Strategy #1: Zero in on your #1 career goal. Click here to read more about this strategy.
Create an appointment with your career center. Ask for assessments and other tools that can help you decide what to do next. Review this four-step career planning process: http://goo.gl/ZiRMsu Visit www.onetonline.org/ to research professions, skills, and talents needed. Outline what you learned at your career center appointment:
After reviewing the four-step career planning resource, here are my outcomes:
2A. What I learned about myselfâ€”skills, talents, interests, and career I want:
2B. The gap between where I am and where I want to beâ€”what major I should pick, classes I should take, skills I should acquire, career I want:
Strategy #2 and #3: Pick your courses strategically & identify your Plan B. Click here to read more about these strategies.
Review 5 job descriptions for the types of jobs you want. Based on your strategy #1 answers, outline what types of courses you ought to take (see below). Set up meeting(s) with professors/academic advisors to discuss course selection. Review 5 job descriptions for the types of jobs you want. Note the common words, skills, and talents these employers are looking for below:
Based on your strategy #1 answers, outline what types of courses you ought to take below. Does your college offer them already? Are they within your major and will it affect how many additional classes youâ€™d need to take?
Strategy #4: Learn about and build your emotional intelligence (E.Q.). Click here to read more about this strategy.
Read this article on Emotional Intelligence: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-suc cess/201410/how-increase-your-emotional-intelligence-6-essentials Join a group/club outside your usual interests. Seek out a team activity/service project. Outline what EQ qualities you need to work on, based on the Psychology Today article:
Outline strategies for how youâ€™ll manifest those in your daily life:
In your chosen group/club/service project, what EQ qualities do you see yourself manifest? What situations did you handle well? What could you have handled better and how?
Strategies #5-7: Develop meaningful professional relationships with your professors and professionals & build your GiftedHire profile. Click here to read more about this strategy.
Use the personal code emailed to you to create your profile on GiftedHire.com. Ask your Career Center for alumni in your field whom you may be able to speak with. Identify five professionals on LinkedIn in a similar line of work. Contact them requesting a phone call. List the names & contact information of professors, alumni, and other professionals you want to stay in touch with below.
Strategy #8: Track your projects and your progress toward achieving goals, and make sure you know how they are measured. Click here to read more about this strategy.
Set up a Google Drive/Dropbox/other cloud-based account to store your projects. Add projects from your classes, internships, and extracurriculars. Develop a portfolio tracker (spreadsheet) that outlines major projects from class or outside. Document date, time, your specific achievements, lessons learned, mistakes made, etc.