I spent about 4 years of my professional career serving in higher education as an academic adviser and career counselor. This experience helped me gain a “real” understanding of the many challenges faced by students when navigating college and career opportunities in the 21st century.
My biggest priority in my job was to help students quickly identify his/her SKILLS GAPS. I called it taking inventory of their professional toolbox. I would always ask a couple of questions to get us started. 1.) What is your dream job? and 2.) What SKILLS do you think you need to get there? I would encourage them to look at real job descriptions and identify the things that employers needed. This research would guide our career and graduation maps. These tools helped the student be in charge of his/her own career identity. This process empowered the student and treated them like experts in their own lives.
The interesting thing about this story is that nobody ever formally trained me how to do this in my job. I used a combination of lived experiences and research to guide my approach. So basically, I broke the rules in an effort to provide a relevant and meaningful experience for students. Luckily, it worked and I was not reprimanded or disciplined. But what I found is that students needed BOTH academic AND social intelligence to succeed. Students also needed stable relationships and experts to help guide their decisions about the labor market.
It is important to me that all students be able to compete in this 21st century economy at a level of their choice. I feel like they are entitled to an education that is both adaptable and responsive to the current demands of the labor market. I CARE about setting students up to WIN and I don’t mind stepping out of the box to help them! — Christina Cummings
From the article: “Today’s job candidates must be able to collaborate, communicate and solve problems – skills developed mainly through social and emotional learning (SEL). Combined with traditional skills, this social and emotional proficiency will equip students to succeed in the evolving digital economy.”