Career Preparedness: How Early Is Too Early?

School officially kicked off last Friday. I met with several incoming students and their parents in receptions. One parent asked me what classes I teach. I teach three upper-division classes. One of them is Leadership & Career Management, which prepares students for a hospitality career. Even though I normally do not teach freshmen and sophomores, I encouraged them to visit me at anytime when they have questions about internships or jobs. A parent told me it was way too early to worry about her son’s career. Is that so?

Entering college is indeed a huge change for most high school students. They need some time to get used to a new life. As a result, I do not recommend freshmen to work part-time because I want to ensure they adjust well in college lives and truly enjoy their first year college experience. However, it does not mean they cannot start preparing for a career when they are still freshmen.

I conduct research in employee recruitment and selection, and I deal with corporate recruiters for years. I know the important factors that influence hospitality recruiters’ hiring decisions. Recruiters evaluate candidates on their leadership skills, relevant internship and job experience, person-organization and person-job fit, interview behaviors, and professionalism. Graduating seniors need to articulate these qualities when interviewing for jobs. However, building such credentials takes time. During recession, the unemployment rate has reached record high of 9.5% or above for a long time, I believe the only way students can stand out from the crowd is to start preparing for a career early --- the earlier, the better. Gaining relevant internship or job experience may not sound critical to freshmen, but it is time for them to build their leadership skills and learn how to conduct themselves professionally.

If it is too early to start preparing for a career in first year of college, please tell me when is a better time?

References:
Picture was downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/linchikwok08302010P

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