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Getting a Plan

When a potential employer quickly scans a resume, your student’s major and grade point average are only a phrase or two on the paper.  Experience is what counts.  Employment experience and internships are excellent ways for a student to augment his or her classroom learning with real world experience, connect with would-be employers and, possibly, make some money. In this tough job market, an internship is not simply “nice.”  It’s an essential part of your student’s plan for post-college success.

Here are some tips on ways to help connect your student with employment and internship opportunities:

The value of networking in PERSON:  With so much time spent texting, blogging, and Facebooking, students frequently may not understand that having a busy world in social media is not the same as a career network.  It is essential that students learned to build relationships based on face to face contact.  As a parent, you can help them understand that real connections need to happen in person.  They can use their home communities, professional organizations, or local chambers of commerce to network with potential employees who might be looking for a summer employee or a college student intern.

Who do YOU know?  Spend a few minutes and write down all the people you know that might be helpful to your student’s networking possibilities.  Consider family, friends, work, church, and your local civic community.  Sometimes you discover that you know more people than you realize.  These leads might be helpful for networking and internship connections.  Besides, it is easier for your son or daughter to start their outreach with supportive connections rather than total strangers.  So, look through those Outlook contacts or YOUR Facebook connections.

Professional Networking Sites.  We all know that college students understand how to connect with friends and strangers through social media.  If they have the ability to master that, they can move to the next level.  Sites like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) allow students to use social media as a recruitment tool for employment, internships, and possible post-college jobs.  There are also sites like Branch Out (www.branchout.com) and Career Amp (www.thejobpyramid.com) to expand their networking capabilities.

Your Student’s Secret Weapon.  It’s easy for college students to feel a little “outgunned” as they seek summer employment and internships.  After all, in a rough economy, they may be competing with people who are older, have more work experience, and have college degrees.  What does a lowly college student have that can compete with that?  One great and powerful thing:  freedom.  Freedom to move, freedom to work for very little, freedom from encumbering obligations.  When you have a car payment, a spouse, kids, and a mortgage you can’t just drop everything and take an entry-level position halfway around the world.  When you’re 19, that’s exactly what you can do and that’s exactly what you need to be ready to do.  It’s the secret weapon of college students:  freedom to move toward opportunity.

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