#054 – Thinking About the Transition from College to Professional Life

The ever-lengthening road from adolescence to adulthood has impacted students’ preparation for their professional lives. College provides the ideal environment for students to experiment with and practice those skills that will help them advance their future careers. In this episode Lynn and Vicki use Jeffrey Selingo’s book There Is Life After College as a framework for discussing how students approach this task of career preparation and how they can maximize their college experiences with their future career in mind. This episode encourages parents to be patient and to continue to help their student clarify what will be required of them as they move into the ever-changing professional world.

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We (all of us – parents and higher education professionals) think and talk a lot about students’ transition into college and success while they are there. We know that most students say they are going to college “to get a good job” but too often we assume that success in college will automatically translate into getting that good job.

In this episode, we shared some ways that students, and their parents, can think about their path through college toward that all-important professional life. We used Jeff Selingo’s wonderful book, There is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow as a framework for our discussion. We talked about what Selingo calls the sprinters, the wanderers, and the stragglers, and we shared stories of some of the students we’ve worked with and our own stories as well.

Approaching the college years with intention, and knowing what professional skills to cultivate can make all of the difference for your student when they graduate. The process, and the path starts earlier than many of us realize.

If you haven’t read it yet, we hope this episode inspires you to read Jeff Selingo’s book, There Is Life After College.  (We have a review of the book here.)

If your student is still in high school, you should also read Selingo’s newest book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions.  (Here’s our review of that book.) You’ll never look at college admissions the same way.

We also mentioned another classic that may help you understand your college-aged student better: Jeffrey Arnett’s Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties. (Here’s our Review of that book.)

In this episode, we shared some lists of qualities that employers say they consider important as they recruit new employees. The college years are the time that students should be cultivating (and documenting) these qualities. Here are a couple of the lists we mentioned. You might want to share these with your student.

Jeff Selingo interviewed recruiters and found these “soft skills” were in high demand:

  • Curiosity
  • Creativity
  • Grit
  • Digital awareness
  • Contextual thinking
  • Humility

Indeed.com provided two lists to consider:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Learning/adaptability skills
  • Self management skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Computer skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Open-mindedness
  • Strong work ethic

Indeed’s second list focused more on important communication skills:

  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Presenting
  • Listening
  • Negotiating
  • Team building
  • Providing or accepting feedback
  • Motivation
  • Honesty
  • Empathy

There was also a national survey by ACT that suggested the following four qualities:

  • Acting honestly
  • Sustaining effort
  • Getting along with others
  • Maintaining composure when things are difficult

Finally, if you and your student are focusing on using the college years as preparation for the transition to professional life, here are some College Parent Central articles that may help.

What Matters for Your Student’s Career?

What Your College Student May Be Looking for in a Job

What is “On Time” Graduation? Four Years Is Becoming a Myth

You may also find our podcast episode about students undecided about a major helpful.

#052 – Undecided Students: Is Your Student Ready to Decide on a Major?

Preparing for a career and professional life is a BIG topic and we have just scratched the surface. Watch of another episode in the upcoming months where we discuss more specific things that students can do during college to build and hone those skills that employers want.

Don’t forget that you can listen to all of our previous podcast episodes here or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also go to followthepodcast.com/collegeparentcentral to add our podcast so that you’ll receive each new episode as we release it.

Let us know what you’d like to hear about on future podcasts! Leave a comment here or email us at podcast@collegeparentcentral.com.

And finally, a request for your help. Podcast ratings and reviews are important to help our podcast become visible to more people who might want or need the information we share. We’ve made it even easier for you to leave us a review! Simply go to lovethepodcast.com/collegeparentcentral and leave us rating or review.

Note: Some links in our post are for affiliate products. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.


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