Looking Beyond College: Preparing Your Student for the Workforce

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Lauren M.
July 1, 2016

Blog / Looking Beyond College: Preparing Your Student for the Workforce

For the millennial entering the workforce, the dreaded interview question has become, “so let’s talk about your experience.” For a generation that includes more college graduates than ever before, an employer can no longer just look at whether the job applicant holds a college diploma to make a decision when hiring. The question of applicable life experience haunts many new millennial graduates as they seek to enter the workforce.

As parents, you want your student to be prepared. Their elementary and high school years have been spent preparing them for college. But looking beyond school, what are ways that you can help equip your student for the professional world? Three main areas to keep in mind as you prepare your student are life skills, hard skills, and transferable experiences.

As a homeschooled college graduate myself, the life skills preparation I received during high school has been invaluable to me as I seek to enter the workforce. Whether those skills involved basic organizational skills or budgeting techniques, they have served me well as I began to live on my own. These life skills also enabled me to confidently take on tasks for employers that I would not have otherwise been able to complete.

Looking Beyond College

Looking beyond school, what are ways that you can help equip your student for the professional world?

Interpersonal communication, whether in written or verbal form, is also a key skill to have for success in the workplace. The ability to form my thoughts into words that others would understand has been essential to my ability to be an effective contributor to any team.

In addition to life skills, hard skills are essential to cultivate. With foresight mixed with creativity, you can help your student transform their existing interests and talents into valuable professional skills as a part of their ongoing education.

A basic, if not in-depth, knowledge of word and data processing programs like Microsoft Word and Excel is essential in today’s technology driven workplace. Can your student type? It is an essential, but often overlooked, skill in today’s society. Does your student love photo editing? Let them learn the Adobe Creative Suite, which is excellent resume material. Have your student to practice telephone etiquette. Teach them how to write a business proposals or formal request.

With foresight mixed with creativity, you can help your student transform their existing interests and talents into valuable professional skills as a part of their ongoing education.

If your student is more of a hands-on learner, teach them plumbing, electrical, gardening, or mechanical skills or find a friend who can teach them.  In three of my jobs, computer skills were a must, so the knowledge of computers that I had built during high school helped give me a greater understanding in the working environment.

While a balanced mix of life skills and hard skills may be enough to land your millennial a job, a bevy of transferable life experiences certainly aid the process. Has your student interacted with kids on a daily basis? Perfect experience to mention when applying to work in a daycare or as a school aide. Has your student organized a large event, coordinating volunteers, and overseeing details? Has your student participated in a team, such as sports team or an orchestra where all the members must work together to reach a goal?

For myself, my organizational and leadership experience during my church’s Vacation Bible School gave me experience leading a team of volunteers, a skill that proved useful in my last job as a hospitality coordinator.

So when you plan out your student’s high school curricula, don’t just think about college. Think beyond college and prepare your student for entering the workforce with preparation in the areas of life skills, hard skills, and transferable experiences.

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