"college"

Fri 27 December 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Often used to help people pick themselves up when their lives seem to have fallen into a rut, this quote can be helpful for giving your life some guidance BEFORE hitting the hard parts.


Consider this: according to the bureau of labor statistics, the average person changes jobs 10.8 times between ages 18 and 42. This means you are more likely than not going to work in a career that has no relevance to what you studied in college at some point. This outcome frequently results in people believing their time spent in college was wasted and that what they gained from college may not have been worth thousands of dollars. But when you consider the pros and cons of going to college, remember that life is about the journey. Did attending college add or detract from your life’s journey? 


While not necessarily a clear answer, like most things it will largely depend on your perspective. If you graduated from college with the expectation that getting a degree would guarantee you a job in a field related to that degree and that you would simply ride that job until retirement (with the level of promotions and acknowledgment you believe you deserve over that period of time), it is easy to understand why you may be unhappy with your current situation. Likewise, if you came into college with a clear understanding that the average person will have 11 or 12 jobs in their life, many of which may be completely removed from your college degree, your expectations likely met reality and you are probably more satisfied with your current situation. But while the benefits of your studies may or may not be clearly visible upon finishing school, there is one step that can be taken to ensure that your college experience does not go to waste, no matter how you look at it.


Having a mentor (or multiple mentors) in college is more correlated to career achievement, engagement, and well-being than any other way a college student could spend their time.


The Gallup Purdue Index of 2016 details the value of career services, inclusive experiences and mentorship for college graduates. It is easy to assume that a career service office would value outcomes like career achievement, engagement, and well-being, but it is clear that they are falling short of that mark with only 17% of students in this research responding that they found their career services office to be very helpful.


This research also found that if you spent your time in college developing mentor relationships, not only are you more likely to be employed but more importantly you are more likely to be engaged in your work and think more highly about your college experience.


What is most interesting about this information is that across the board, students who had mentors in college are significantly more likely to thrive and achieve career success than students who did not.


Finding where you belong after college is not an easy task. Everyone at some point or another has struggled with finding where they truly feel at home. By keeping your mind open and surrounding yourself with individuals who can help you get where you want to be, you’ll find your destination soon enough. Having a positive perspective and keeping the right people by your side will ensure that you not only find your home but that the journey to get there will be unforgettable.

Fri 13 December 2019
Increasing your likelihood of implementing a successful mentorship program at your university becomes much greater when you understand the desires of your students (mentees) and alumni (mentors). By fully understanding the wants and needs of both parties, you can create a mentorship program that works for everyone (and not just for the sake of saying you have a mentorship program).


Students:

  1. To learn from somebody they can see themselves in

This ties into the work in the Journal of Vocational Behaviors in which we learn that students need to be able to see themselves and relate to their mentors to fully gain the most out of that mentor. If a mentor cannot relate to the same or similar struggles that the student is facing, the student will not identify the successes of the mentor as something the student can achieve. This includes race, gender, age, GPA and any other obstacle (real or perceived) the student is facing. For example, if you are a parent, significant other, or close friend and make a suggestion to your child, partner, or friend (respectively), that suggestion will likely not be internalized by the person you are speaking to because they know you more intimately and perceive the subtle differences between you and them as not relatable. Vice versa, a total stranger could make that same suggestion you gave to your child, partner, or friend and your child, partner, or friend could implement it instantly. Why? Because what they did know about that stranger they believed related to them. For a student to engage in mentorship, they must be able to see themselves in their mentor.

2. To not be told what to do

Students are seeking to learn voluntarily, not forcibly. If a student feels forced or coerced to be a mentee, they are likely to reject or do the minimum to achieve satisfaction from the party forcing them to be a mentee. Students have similar responses to required vs. elective courses.

3. To gain career opportunities

Students need to know that the work they are doing in school and with meeting mentors is leading toward something. It is important for them to believe that the relationship is worth something, and not just simply another person they know. The biggest fear in this case, however, is that the student can solely value the job, and sometimes not form a true relationship. Students need to know that job opportunities can come from mentorship, but rarely come if their sole purpose for getting mentored is getting a job. Fortunately for the students, this ties in nicely with how the mentor often perceives the relationship, and what they want.


Mentors:

  1. To pay it forward

If you think this sounds wishy-washy or doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably not suited to be a mentor. Fortunately, there are many people that love the idea of giving time to a student and helping them grow as a person. Dale Carnegie once said,


“Talk to someone about themselves and they will talk to you for hours.”


Being a mentor provides alumni with the opportunity to be philanthropic without spending money, and helping students with a topic they are an expert in.

2. To stay “in the know” with events and activities at their alma mater

Keeping your alumni involved with your school goes beyond the competitiveness of your athletic programs. Sure alumni receive newsletters about what is going on around campus from the perspective of the administration, but alumni want to know what students think because they were students. Being a mentor allows alumni to stay involved with what is going on around campus and updated on the students’ thoughts about it.

3. To provide opportunities

There is nothing more satisfying to a mentor than knowing that he/she paved the way for a student to succeed. This goes beyond helping a student get a job. This includes providing recommendations, key insights, and job shadows. If the perspective of the mentor saves a student time, money, or energy then that mentor has done a great job. There is no greater feeling than believing you made a positive impact on somebody else’s life. For a mentor, having a student that is eager to learn (and not desperate for a job) goes a long way towards encouraging a mentor to provide opportunities to students.


With these insights into the desires of mentors and mentees, you can begin building a strategy for ensuring positive and beneficial connections.

Fri 29 November 2019
The Gallup Purdue Great Jobs, Great Lives report has shed light that mentorship is clearly vital and necessary to the development of college students. According to this report,


“Graduates who felt ‘supported’ during college (that professors cared, professors made them excited about learning, and had a mentor) are nearly three times as likely to be thriving than those who didn’t feel supported.”


Students who were mentored in college also had higher levels of work engagement than students who were not mentored.


Since this report was published, many universities and departments have attempted to implement their own internal mentor program. Getting mentors, providing the proper content, matching the right students with the right mentors, and establishing a plan for the mentorship to continue is difficult in and of itself, and many schools have struggled with properly implementing it. Getting students involved with the program is one of the most important parts of a mentorship program, and it is more often the most neglected part. In interviews with multiple schools that have attempted to implement their own internal mentorship programs, nearly all of them expressed a struggle to engage students to become mentees.


This may seem somewhat odd, considering all of the benefits that students clearly receive from having a mentor, but this is what has been happening with many mentorship programs. To help understand why this is the case, here are a few reasons why student mentees don’t immediately pounce at many mentorship programs.

  1. The students have no clue that it exists

In interviews with a few hundred students at one of the largest universities in the US, we learned that the majority of students didn’t know that their school offers free health services, content on how librarians can help them and interlibrary loans, library journal subscriptions, writing centers, mental health services and international/domestic peer programs. All of these programs are extremely beneficial and available to students (and are consistently available at many large institutions and have been for years), but the students aren’t aware of their existence. Some universities have even made required projects that forced the use of these services, advertised these services on school buses, and brought guest speakers to speak about these services and students still don’t acknowledge their existence.

2. Mentorship is posed as a career development opportunity as opposed to an educational opportunity

Many mentorships blossom into job offers and work relationships. However, these further opportunities typically did not occur because students perceived that mentorship as leading into a job. They come from students genuinely enjoying the company and advice of their mentor, and wanting to continue their relationship with the mentor. Students put on a façade of professionalism when they are presented with an interview-like opportunity and feel like they have to not “look dumb” or seem like they are keeping up with everything a professional is saying so as to make themselves as hirable as possible. This is the exact opposite of what a mentorship should be. Students should have the goal of asking as many questions as one can in order to learn the most and grow as a person. Mentors seek vulnerability in a student mentee. Mentors don’t expect an 18-22 year old to know every facet of their career (that is why the student is the mentee!). Vulnerability is desirable because a student who asks questions and shows a willingness to learn is much more hirable than a student who doesn’t ask any questions.


Furthermore, if students are informed that mentorship is a career development opportunity, students that have job offers or believe they have a job lined up won’t pursue mentorships. Vice versa, it creates an environment where only students desperate for a job will want to be mentored and will act in a way referenced in the previous paragraph. This outcome is not valuable for the mentor or the student, and more often than not will leave all parties involved feeling extremely dissatisfied.

3. The fear of missing out

A student doesn’t want to be the only person doing something that everyone isn’t doing. On the contrary, students want to keep up with whatever their peers are doing. Therefore, to get a mentorship program to work at a university, it has to become popular to do. Students cannot perceive themselves as exclusive or too good to be mentored or else it won’t catch on with other students. Getting the initial students to become mentees is difficult because schools are posing students with a relatively scary proposition: go have a conversation with a stranger about your career. Many students struggle to know what they want in a career entering their senior year, let alone freshman to junior years. For a student, having a conversation with a stranger can be nerve-wracking in and of itself, combined with talking to a professional about career paths when the student himself maybe hasn’t considered career paths can be a lot.


Overall, creating a mentorship program within a university is difficult. To properly engage students in a mentorship program there needs to be a clear and proven plan to inform the students, portray mentorship as mentorship and not career development, and have a strategy for popularizing mentorship. This article hopefully can serve as a reference to help others with some of the struggles faced when attempting to grow a mentorship program.

Fri 22 November 2019
The educational landscape is changing. Universities are adding more courses and degree fields to help prepare students for the perpetually changing professional world.


Purdue and Gallup recently collaborated on a report titled Great Jobs, Great Lives and found that “Graduates who felt “supported” during college (that professors cared, professors made them excited about learning, and had a mentor) are nearly three times as likely to be thriving than those who didn’t feel supported.” 


Having professors that care and professors that made students excited about learning are things that can be monitored by universities internally. Having a mentor, on the other hand, is something that occurs outside of the classroom.


What is mentorship?


Mentorship is the relationship between a pupil and a professional in which the mentee gains knowledge, while the mentor gains the opportunity to pay it forward and give back some of his/her knowledge to someone who will appreciate it.


 Why is it important? 


Mentorship is vitally important to the development of college students because it provides them with a basis for building a realistic expectation for their professional careers.


Mentorship is important to mentors because it provides them with an opportunity to teach, detail their experiences, and talk about themselves. Dale Carnegie said it best “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”


How can it be implemented in universities?


Mentorship absolutely can be implemented in the college setting. In order to properly implement a mentor system in a university, there are some key pieces of information that need to be kept in mind:

  1. Alumni love the idea of being mentors. When interviewed, a university alumni association informed me that they were able to get over 9,000 alumni to be mentors.
  2. Assuming that all students are prepared to say they want a mentor is a misconception. In the same alumni association with over 9,000 alumni mentors, they were only able to facilitate 100 mentor/mentee connections over a 5 year period.
  3. Just matching a student with any mentor that has the same or similar career as the path the student aspires does not guarantee a successful relationship. There is much more to a successful mentor relationship beyond just matching students’ career ambitions with mentors’ experience.
  4. Students cannot think of mentorship as a job interview. If they do then the relationship cannot thrive because students are not their true, authentic selves when they believe there is an incentive.

 While working with a university’s business school we had them take our 360 degree assessment in which students ranked themselves and their peers on soft skill characteristics like listening skills, communication skills, leadership skills, etc. When the students were told that the report was for feedback purposes only, they ranked their peers much lower on the skills. Yet, when the students were told that their report of their peers (and their peers’ reports of them) would affect their grades, students ranked their peers much higher on the skills.


 Keeping this information in mind when establishing a mentor program at your university is vitally important to achieving your program’s goals.


Therefore, mentorship can be successfully implemented in the university setting if:

  1. The mentors are kept engaged.
  2. The students involve themselves with getting mentors and understand how to build those relationships.
  3. A system is in place to fully understand both the mentors and the students and connect them according to the latest research from experts on the subject.
  4. Students are provided with resources to teach them that a mentorship is not a job interview and that they should be themselves when meeting with their mentors.

Mentorship is beginning to permeate through the university setting as it has been successfully implemented in many companies through internal mentorship (i.e. senior leaders connecting with junior associates). Mentorship in college will not only help individual students learn from mentors but more importantly, help lead society towards careers they are passionate about.


 Will your university be able to implement mentorship successfully?

Fri 1 November 2019
Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” This sentiment that Mr. Twain held remains true to this day, but can be very difficult to uphold.


For college students thinking about life after graduation, it is very easy to fall into the trap of settling for the safety net of the first job offer they receive after school. This is not to say that the first job offer that a student receives through their career development process is not of their highest ambitions. However, with the conditioning that a typical college student faces from his parents, friends, professors, and the media, it is easy to understand how students can find themselves afraid to pursue their true dreams.
 

  1. The conditioning is bullshit


Conditioning in this sense is the feeling that one must take an action because an external stimulus is influencing that behavior. Some examples of this include pursuing a career only because it relates to your major, not pursuing a career because you didn’t have a high GPA, not considering a company because it doesn’t come to your university to recruit, or not pursuing a company because you don’t feel like you are good enough or have the appropriate credentials.


I was running an Ambition In Motion workshop where we recommend companies to students that align with their strengths, interests, and work environment desires. When one of the students was informing the group of his recommended companies he said:


“All of my recommended companies are amazing but I don’t think they are realistic for me.”


I followed up to him by asking, “Why not?”


He then proceeded to list off all of the conditioning he has received throughout his collegiate years. He didn’t have a high enough GPA. The company didn’t recruit at Indiana University. He didn’t have any connections to anyone at the company.


In response I told him, “Dream big! You are just as human as every other college student that is about to graduate. You don’t have to lower your aspirations because of what other people around you have told you. Your dreams are just as valid as anyone else’s. Through Ambition In Motion, you will learn how to build relationships with professionals at your recommended companies. Who knows what will occur from there, but if you don’t put yourself out there, you will relegate yourself to settling for whatever job offer comes to you.”
 

2. Your dreams and goals are valid

 
When it comes to deciding your career, don’t be afraid to think big! Almost every college student has a similar amount of career experience, give or take an internship or two. That is to say, not that much.


Sure, some universities have more companies recruiting at their career fairs and career development offices. This doesn’t guarantee students at those universities jobs at those companies. It also doesn’t mean students outside of those universities are precluded from those jobs. It just means that students, regardless of their universities, are on an even playing field when it comes to pursuing their dream jobs. Everyone is capable of getting their dream job if they put themselves out there and build relationships with people at their desired companies.


3. Careers are not predetermined

 
If your career was predetermined by your degree, university, GPA, or other conditioning factors, why would we even apply to jobs? To put it another way (and to keep with the season of March Madness), if the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament had a predetermined winner, why would we fill out brackets?


Mr. Twain’s belief about not surrounding yourself with people that belittle your dreams and goals is very important advice that every college student should keep in mind. College students should surround themselves with people that support their goals and ambitions.


Limiting beliefs are only limiting if you believe them. Dream big and pursue the career and life that you would be jealous of.

Fri 25 October 2019
The martial artist, actor, filmmaker, and philosopher, Bruce Lee, was one of the most prominent figures in the world throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. Lee was not only extremely successful at each of these endeavors, but also pursued each endeavor in his own special way. Lee was best known for his martial arts, and rumor has it that he had to slow down his moves so that the camera could catch all of his movements while filming his movies. Lee once said “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”


 Lee’s sentiment about being yourself is something everyone should keep in mind. Straining yourself to be somebody you are not creates immense amounts of unneeded stress. This is especially true for college students pursuing their careers.


  1. You are not a machine that needs to fit the specs of what you think an employer wants.


Feeling like you have to fit in this box of what you think an employer wants based on the feedback you have received from your university, peers, parents, and society is completely understandable. There is a lot of pressure to get a career that satisfies the expectations of your parents, family friends, peers, and society…and then yourself.


For college students pursuing their careers, thinking that you can be yourself and get a job can be a difficult notion to grasp, as getting a job can be quite difficult. It is easy to assume that catering your personality to what you think an employer wants would make you more hirable.


But if you are able to land a job because you have catered your personality to what you think the employer wants, how long can you maintain that personality? How will being this different affect your relationship with your coworkers?


2. Putting on an alternate personality for your career will not last nor be satisfying.


Portraying a persona of somebody that you are not is difficult to maintain, and will not be sustainable in the long run. More importantly, it is not enjoyable. What most college students do not understand is that an employer would rather hire somebody that can enjoy their work and thrive than somebody that is straining themselves to try and fit the mold that they think the employer wants. This is because employers know that happy employees tend to be more engaged and stay longer than those who are unhappy.


How awesome would it be if a company would hire your for who you are? This does not have to be a situation reserved for the extremely lucky. If you are yourself in the interview process, you can feel free to be yourself when you work. Similar to dating, if you put on this façade during the first few dates that you will do all of these marvelous things as a relationship partner that you won’t actually do or want to do, it will lead to dissatisfaction for both you and your partner. On top of that, your partner may not even want all of these marvelous promises that you have made and not continue the relationship.


Wouldn’t it be unfortunate to not get a job offer from a company because the personality you portrayed was not what they were looking for but instead the company was seeking someone more similar to your natural personality?


How important is it to be yourself during the interview process and in your career? Extremely important!


When you feel free to be yourself, express yourself, and have faith in yourself in your career, you can begin to develop a level of comfortability on the job that breeds confidence. Comfortability and confidence are major aspects to building proficiency and happiness in your career.


Ultimately, choose a career that you can be yourself in. Nobody can be you better than you can.

Fri 18 October 2019
When dining at a restaurant, what happens when your expectations don’t meet reality? Presuming you were expecting to enjoy your meal, if your expectation is not fulfilled with what you experienced, you will likely not dine at that restaurant again. In contrast, what happens when expectation DOES meet reality? You enjoy your food, and will probably continue eating at that restaurant in the future.


What happens when employees’ expectations of their careers don’t meet reality? They leave.


For college students, possessing a realistic expectation of their career at a company is extremely difficult because they have never worked in the corporate world before. Sure, many college students have had internships and part time jobs before, but it is not the same as being in a full-time career.


There are many things that college students can do to gain a more realistic expectation of the factors affecting their careers. This blog will cover one of the most important factors affecting the expectations of their careers: MONEY.


When it comes to choosing a career from a list of job offers, many people resort to a mindset of “choose the job that pays the most!” This is not a bad instinct by any means. But is that job paying its employees enough to fulfill their expectations of the type of lifestyles they envisioned for themselves after college? If not, even the highest paying career is not enough to satisfy these employees’ expectations.


What can college students do to have a more realistic expectation of their lifestyle and how much money they should make after college?


They can begin by looking at their current lifestyle. If college students have accustomed themselves to a spend-heavy lifestyle in college (or vice versa and not spend much at all), they will likely live a similar lifestyle when they enter their careers. This is because students have grown accustomed to their lifestyles. Even if their parents, student loans, or scholarships covered the tab on many of the expenses that they are going to have to pay for now, students (and all people for that matter) have a difficult time changing their habits. To prove this point, checkout the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke which details the amount of former professional athletes that could not change their lifestyles after retiring and are now bankrupt.


Fortunately for college students, there is an awesome cost of living calculator on Nerdwallet which details the cost of living change from one city to another. By using this website college students are able to calculate their annual living, food, entertainment, and transportation expenses currently. They then can get a really good idea of how much they will spend annually on their lifestyles after college by comparing it to the costs associated with other cities where they wish to live. College students then have to factor in taxes and the amount of money they want to save annually in order to derive the minimum starting salary they need to achieve to live the current lifestyle they are living.


What if the minimum starting salary a student needs to have exceeds the amount of money they have been offered in their job offers?


There are 2 options at this juncture. Either the student needs to find job offers for more money, or he needs to realign his expectations of his lifestyle to meet a more realistic expectation.


By knowing what their minimum necessary starting salary should be, students can then concentrate on all other factors of the career when considering job offers. For example, if you discover that your minimum necessary starting salary is $50,000 (for a specific city) and you have offers for $52,000, $54,000, and $60,000, you can evaluate and compare every other facet of the career (nice employees, opportunities for growth, good location, a culture that seems to fit your personality, etc.) to choose the offer that fits you best among these other factors because you can know that your expected lifestyle will be fulfilled.


By performing this task while in college, students can save themselves a lot of heartache, stress, and time.


When expectation meets reality, satisfaction occurs.

Fri 4 October 2019
If you are a college student, the process of applying for jobs is relatively simple. You go to your university’s career service website, see what employers have job postings, click apply to any jobs that seem interesting and wait to see if you get a response from any of the employers for an interview. You could also test your luck at career fairs where hundreds of students pour into a venue to have really intimidating, forced, and, for the most part, the same 1-3 minute conversation with recruiters at companies you think you might be interested. Performing both of these actions is relatively simple, and if you are lucky and have a good elevator pitch, you may land an interview.


During this time period of “oh, I should probably apply for jobs” to “Alright! I have 3 interviews”, how much have you learned about any of the opportunities you have applied for? Sure, you may have read a brief 100-200 word description of the employers on a career service website, along with employers’ location, and possibly jobs’ starting salaries. You also probably have a perception of the prestige of the companies and how good having a company’s name on your resume may look.


Are there other factors that you may not know about that might have a huge impact on whether or not you like your job? Factors like how much work is done in groups vs. individually, will you have creative freedom, are there leadership opportunities, will you learn new skills, is there direct access to senior leadership, how varied is the work, how diverse is the workplace, is there a lot of travelling, do you have your own workspace, along with even more factors that you may have no clue about before accepting a job.


As a college student, you have to decide how important these factors are to you and how much of an impact they will have on your career choice.


The difficulty in this task is that this work is purely self-motivated. There is no boss, there is no deadline. You are the only person who will derive the benefit, and have to be able to put in the effort to obtain this information. This is made even more difficult by the fact that the answer to each of these points of research is unique to each department of each company. The accounting department may have an entirely different environment than the marketing department, who are likely completely different from the HR department.


If you consider merely getting a job offer your pinnacle of success, then there is no point to put in the effort to learn whether or not companies possess these factors and how much you value them. But if your definition of success is having a fulfilling career, it might require some additional effort.


The toughest part about this additional effort is that it has to be motivated by you. To your parents and friends, just getting a job offer is wonderful news. The security of having a job offer feels awesome. However, having no clue whether or not you will like the job you have been offered is an issue you have to deal with. You can suppress it and tell yourself that you’ll find another job if you don’t enjoy it or you can embrace it and put in the time to fully understand what opportunities are available to you and which opportunities fit you best.


In high school, it was very clear of what to do to get to college. You get good grades. In college, it was very clear of what to do to get a job offer. You get good grades, internships, and leadership positions in extracurricular activities.


But what about pursuing a career that is fulfilling? This path is much more vague, yet extremely important to achieving happiness in your career.


Ultimately, the more effort you put in to understanding a career before entering it, the more realistic your perception will be of the work. If you do this, you won’t be surprised at the work culture and will be much more satisfied with the work you are doing. Because you knew what to expect, you will likely be happier, more productive, and more engaged in the work you are doing.


Wonderful things can occur when perception meets reality.

Fri 27 September 2019
When I was younger and thought of the Ivy League, I had visions of grandeur and prosperity. I believed that it was the melting pot for the cream of the crop. Books such as Ugly Americans convinced me that students attending Ivy League schools could get a job anywhere. As far as I was concerned, students that graduated from Ivy League schools were leaps and bounds more prepared for their careers than students who graduated from second-tier schools.


This point was reinforced even further by an interview I had a few months ago with a 29 year old professional who was working for an investment banking firm.


Me: “What college did you go to and is that a college your company recruits students out of?”


I-banker: “I went to Indiana University, but my company only recruits students from the Ivy League. I was just extremely lucky to get into this company because my girlfriend’s dad had a connection to the company.”


Me: “Why wouldn’t your company recruit students outside of the Ivy League? I mean, it seems like you are thriving at this company, so why would that be any different from other students that graduate from Indiana University, or any other school for that matter?”


I-banker: “We are looking for students with analytical skills. Plainly, students that graduate from second-tier schools don’t have the analytical skills to properly do the job at our bank.”


Me: “But what about you?”


I-banker: “I like to think of myself as an outlier. I first got lucky that I had an in through my girlfriend’s dad. I then realized that after working with colleagues from Ivy League schools that I always strived for greatness and should have set my sights higher when selecting a college to attend.”


Me: “But by that same logic, could you also make the point that there are other “outliers” just like you at second-tier universities that could achieve similar successes as you have?”


I-banker: “Personally, there are so few students at second-tier schools with the analytical skills to succeed at a company like ours that it is not worth the opportunity cost to recruit at those schools to find the ‘diamond in the rough’.”


After completing the interview, I wanted to get to the facts about this investment banker’s notion. Is finding students with the proper analytical skills at a non-Ivy League university truly like finding a “diamond in the rough”?


Fortunately, Bloomberg has already done much of this research. Interestingly enough, Ivy League students are not far and away more prepared in terms of analytical thinking. In fact, Ivy League schools rank average or just above average for most categories that Bloomberg studied (i.e. ability to work collaboratively, adaptability, communication skills, creative problem solving, decision making, leadership skills, motivation/drive, quantitative skills, and strategic thinking).


After looking at the research and reviewing the responses from the investment banker I learned that there is clearly a disconnect.


Is it fair to students who are getting systematically denied from job opportunities because they aren’t attending Ivy League universities?


Is it fair to companies who are neglecting potentially great student hires because they possess the assumption that hiring Ivy League students will net them better and more prepared employees?


Are there other factors that might weigh more important to successful employment beyond technical skills? For example, leadership and organizational development professors Peter Lok and John Crawford have found an interesting correlation between the work environment of an employer and the strengths/goals of an employee. Employees have higher commitment (productivity, retention, engagement) when the correlation between these factors is high.


If there was a way for students to know which companies had opportunities that matched their desired career goals and strengths and a way for employers to inform students of their work environment, would there be higher levels of successful employment (i.e. both employers and employees happy with their relationship)?


I am not saying that there is not a benefit to attending an Ivy League school, but being an Ivy League student does not necessarily mean you have elite technical skills. In addition, having technical skills is not the only factor that leads to successful employment. Furthermore, employers that possess these ill-informed assumptions may be hindering their hiring decisions.


There is no pure solution to these questions I propose, but they are important things to consider if successful employment is the desired outcome for both college students and employers.

Fri 13 September 2019
Me: “Why are you in college today?”


Charles (college student): “To get a degree that will hopefully help me get a job.”


Me: “How do you know that getting a job is what you want if you have never experienced it before?”


Charles: “Because that is what you are supposed to do after you graduate. I mean I want to make money and not have to move back in with my parents and I have a lot of debt to pay back, so I kind of need a job.”


Me: “Ah, that makes sense. Well, considering that you could make money at any job and could therefore likely not have to move back in with your parents and be able to begin paying off your student debt, are there any other factors that play into your job search?”


Charles: “Well, I will probably get a job that pertains to my major because that is what companies hire for, so my major plays a factor in my career decision.”


Me: “How did you choose your major originally and do you like the classes that you are taking for your major?”


Charles: “I chose my major because people with my major have one of the highest job placement rates of all majors. However, I don’t really like the classes that I am taking, but I only have 1 more semester to go before I graduate so I figure that I can muster through it.”


Me: “Through your logic of applying for jobs that hire for people with your major, is there a chance that the work you would be doing in your career could be very similar to the work that you are doing in your classes?”


Charles: “That is very possible, but I figure that with the money that I will be making and having a prestigious company on my resume, that I wouldn’t mind working through it for a year or two. Once I quit, I will probably be able to easily find another job because I have that prestigious company on my resume.”


Me: “So you are going into your job with the anticipation of quitting?”


Charles: “Well, ya, I mean a lot of people do that.”


Me: “Similar to how the company that will hire you out of college will hire you because of your major, have you ever considered that the company that hires you after you quit your first job might be hiring you to do the same exact or similar job as what you did with your original company because of your experience doing that work?”


Charles: “I don’t know, I guess maybe, but if I really didn’t like the job I do after college then I won’t look for jobs that are in that field.”


Me: “If that is the case, then what is the value of having a prestigious company on your resume if you plan on quitting and if you don’t like it you will look for jobs outside of that industry that won’t value your experience at that company on your resume?”


Charles: “I have no clue, I haven’t really thought that deep into why I want to work this type of job outside of the money and the resume building.”


The career outlook that Charles has is very similar to many students that I have interviewed over the past 2 years. College students believe that the reason why they go to college is to have a degree that gives them the credibility to get a job. The issue with this mindset is that college students go to college to get a job but get a job because they went to college. All along the way, college students are pursuing careers that they have no clue why they are pursuing (except for the fact that it pays them money).


What I really wanted to ask was “what else do you Charles (or any other college student) value beyond the money?” It is not that making money is wrong, but you can make money at ANY JOB. Why doesn’t college work towards helping college students understand why they want to pursue the career they are pursuing? Helping students understand their values, beliefs, feelings, and aspirations cannot be measured with a test score but are vital to understanding why an individual does what they do.


College teaches students many valuable skills and much knowledge, but if the only reason why students are in college is to get a job offer, what motivation do students have to learn about topics that they want to learn about (not topics they are forced to regurgitate on an exam for their major and then forget about shortly thereafter)?


Colleges are beginning to implement soft skill development with their students because companies have complained that many recent college graduates lack those skills entering the workforce. These soft skill development classes are required courses for one’s major in which students are told to perform actions like goal setting, time management, networking, etc. These skills are vital skills to learn but are only valuable if the person developing these skills understands why they are valuable beyond that passing the course will get them closer to getting a job.


The “why” is lost in college today and its effect is obvious. With over 70% of Americans either not engaged or actively disengaged (a majority of which are recent college graduates) in their careers (Gallup), 80% of Americans unsatisfied with their jobs (Deloitte), and the fact that the average American changes vocation over 15 times in their life (Bureau of Labor Statistics) it is blatantly clear that something wrong is occurring with Americans and their mentality on their careers.


Socrates believed that “you don’t know what you don’t know” and Warren Buffett once said that “getting a job so then you can have it on your resume is like saving up sex for old age.”


As a college student, it is easy to fall in love with the security of having a job offer. Spending 4 years of one’s life living up for that day that a college student gets a job offer is a lot of built-up anticipation and energy for something one has never experienced before. And if the college student is only getting the job to boost his resume and move on to something later, there is no intrinsic motivation for improving his career.


College is one of the most pivotal times in a person’s life as it is the time when a majority of the habits we hold for the rest of our lives are formed (for better or for worse).


Understanding “why” one does what one does (i.e. one’s values, beliefs, feelings, aspirations) will allow an individual to begin the building blocks of the change he wants to make in his life and the world.

Mon 15 July 2019
Author Walter Brunell once wrote “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” I like starting my blogs with a quote because…why not commemorate someone else’s instance of brilliance with a citation?


I especially like this quote because it directly relates to how I left off my last blog…turning to Indiana University and falling flat on my face! The combination of failure with a collegiate reference is the perfect storm of irony and truth.


To refresh your memory, the problems I saw were college students taking way too many classes without any clarity on what to major in and college students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue because their major was not giving them clarity on their career. This seems to me like such an obvious problem in student development today that nobody seems to be able to solve.


It feels as if society is a parent and college students are their child and going to college is like dropping your kid in the pool for the first time and watching them flail around aimlessly for breath. Sure, this is fine and cute when you are talking about $20 swim lessons…but when these college “swim lessons” run up your tab to the tune of $20,000+ a semester, it’s not so cute and novel anymore.


The issue is that it feels as if American society has normalized confusion for what a person should do from the ages 18-22. I feel that this confusion should either be less normalized or that college should be cheaper so then the consequences of being confused in college are minimized. With the high cost of getting a college degree, attending college with confusion can be a gamble. Yes, I said it, going to college with confusion can be considered a GAMBLE! Sure, administrators who went to college 20+ years ago may disagree with me because when they went to college A) they could afford to pay for their tuition out of their own pocket (which now seems as if it is impossible to even imagine paying for college without loans, your parents, or scholarship) and B) when you are paying for college (even a little) out of your own pocket, you have skin in the game. This forces you, as the student, to think “wow, am I really ready for college because this is a lot of cash that I am dropping?” This then leads to the clarity of “I am ready for college, I have researched what I am going to major in, and I am pretty confident that I can accomplish my goal of getting a degree in 4 years” or “No, I am not ready. I think I am going to work/travel/soul search for a little bit and then maybe come back to college.”


This is what SHOULD happen in a perfect world. However, the world is not perfect.


REVELATION: All people are different and some people learn and develop at their own pace! And guess what, college is not meant for everyone at age 18…BAZINGA!


So what happens to those 18 year olds that do not know what they want to do entering college?


First, there are more students than advisors. Like significantly more! Imagine 40,000 students to 150 advisors…yikes! Advisors cannot possibly give students the individualized attention that they need to truly make an educated decision on their degree path.


My initial thought to combat this problem was to help college students clarify what their hobbies and interests were and how that could correlate to a major. This was my original idea for Ambition In Motion.


However, at this time I was 21 years old and no parent was going to pay me, a person without any credible accolades, any money to help their child figure out their degree path. It was like “hey, I can help your child figure out their degree path” and the parents saying “have you even figured out your own degree path?…touché”.


I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my degree path and had a good idea of where I would like my career to go and I knew that I had the skills and experience to help their child, but convincing a parent when you are 21 that you can help their child with their degree (to them at least) is like a fish telling us that he convinced a shark not to eat him. It is just tough for the parents to believe it.


Even if I could convince a parent to pay me to help their child out with their degree path, very few students are motivated to participate in something that their parents made them do. “I loved and was super motivated to do that thing my parents forced me to do”…said no one ever.


So how did I handle this failure? I will let you know in my next blog post.


In terms of this blog post title, college really is not meant for everyone, certainly not everyone at age 18. If you are a student, realize that your parents, friends, family, and everyone else in society just wants you to be happy without impeding on their happiness (i.e. on a professional level of pursuing a career/lifestyle that you don’t have to move back in with your parents to things on a personal level like not keeping your neighbors up all night because you want to blast music at 3:00 in the morning). If you are everyone else in society, try to hold back judgment of those who are pursuing their life in a different way than you did, foresee yourself to, or think that everyone else should. Those people who are pursuing the road less traveled should not be chastised and thought of destined for immortal doom because they are not doing it the way everyone else is. We, as society, love to value those who “made it” via the road less traveled, yet, we love to rebuke those who are on a less traveled road whom haven’t quite “made it” to their destination yet.


Let’s support those who are doing things a little differently :).

Mon 24 June 2019
Professor Leonard Bernstein once wrote, “Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time.” I kind of feel the opposite of this right now, as if I am not as good of a writer when I AM inspired. I had an epiphany last night to write a blog post for Ambition In Motion (AIM) on how everything began. I woke up this morning super inspired to write…just to write this post and get feedback that it was way too “listy” and “not engaging enough.” So here is my attempt at making this blog post more engaging.


Ambition In Motion (AIM) started in Bloomington, Indiana in May of 2013. Why is this important to you? To be totally honest, because the more specific verbiage I use in my blog posts, the higher the AIM website will pop up when students/employers/mentors/anyone else keyword searches something semi-relevant to AIM in Google. Also, because I thought that you might be interested in how AIM got started. I have been asked a surprisingly many times how AIM got started so I figured that I would convey that story in a blog post.



So I was working with this student organization called CLEAR in Fall of 2012 and Spring of 2013 and I wanted to improve participation. We had some consistent members, but would randomly receive a stark drop in participation and I had no clue why. It is crazy because this would happen in random, yet consistent spurts. Periodically, younger students would take more credit hours because they had no idea what degree they wanted to major. These kids were spending a ridiculous amount of time studying to get good grades, while receiving little clarity on what they wanted their degree to be. SHOCKER ALERT: what you like now as a freshman will change as you get older and the classes that you take as a freshman have little correlation to the classes that you will take as a senior, BOOM! I know that this may read crass and sarcastic (which it is), but sadly, this information is not obvious to everyone. Even worse, the answer to the million dollar question of “what should I major in?” isn’t obvious either.



We also received large drops in participation from the older students who had no clue what career they wanted to pursue. Many of these older students accumulated a bunch of credits in a major area and just decided “well, I guess I will major in this!” without lending any credence to what career they might be interested in pursuing. This is the effect to the cause of “well I guess I should take every 100 level class in every degree area and go from there and accumulate credits in totally random fields so then I can ‘figure it out’”. 2 years later they haven’t figured it out and their parents say “son, I am cutting you off after your 4th year of college…SO FIGURE IT OUT!” The student then freaks out and says “well, I guess I will major in this!” The student’s parents come back to him and ask “so what are you going to do with your life when you graduate? Because you sure aren’t going to be moving back in with us!” The student is like, …gulp…”I don’t know yet but I will be looking for a job.” Students like this then attend every career fair imaginable, treating it like a job buffet and dropping their resume off at every booth.


I saw students taking way too many classes without any clarity and students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue as a problem. NEWS FLASH: Most careers do not have a linear correlation from the perceived career from a certain degree path (i.e. a career as an economist from a degree in economics). I originally started helping incoming college students gain some clarity on which major to choose. I saw this as a good solution because this would help students minimize their student loan debt due to less wasted semesters, have a definitive answer when talking to their parents, and have more time to participate in extracurricular activities like CLEAR. I turned to Indiana University for help in this issue and fell flat on my face.


So what did I end up finding out from Indiana University? I will explain further in my next blog post.


In terms of a response to the title of this blog post, it doesn’t really matter what degree you pursue, because that has no bearing on your career. Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. Don’t waste your time stressed in classes. College is meant to be a learning experience…so LEARN and don’t stress.

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