There Ain’t No Core Curriculum in the Real World


Spring is in the air! In Buffalo, that still means an unfortunate amount of snow remains, but nonetheless, calls are flooding into our Career Reform office due to imminent graduations and a desperate need to secure that first job. Parents, I know it’s natural to put on your career-counseling hats, but I strongly suggest you resist that urge. Although well intentioned, most parents unknowingly spout bad, outdated advice that no longer works in our new normal economy. I even wrote a book about it.


Your youngster has amazing opportunities in front of them, and, handled appropriately, they’ll land a role that doesn’t resemble your traditional ideas of employment. In less than a decade, millennials are projected to makeup the bulk of the workforce, which means they need to become proficient in going from a highly structured environment to a not-so-structured environment. There will be no common core or structured curriculum in the real world. Graduates, now it’s your turn to listen up.




Attitude is everything

The first step is undoubtedly the most difficult to overcome and the most overlooked. In order to land a role today, you must adopt an attitude that attracts employers. At Career Reform, it’s our tagline, “You own it, you build it.” Your boss will not be your Daddy, and with small businesses continuing to outpace large corporations, the more you understand that, regardless of what your title is, you’ll be expected to juggle multiple skillsets and responsibilities. That concept requires an individual with a  “growth mindset” – someone who understands that their talents and abilities can be developed through personal effort, coaching, and persistence. Theory is a wonderful gift but execution is what you will be judged on now and into the future. The reality is that employers are looking for a partnership, not an employee. They need someone they can count on who treats their career like a business and possesses a readiness to grow.


Come up with a plan

Like an employer, a growth-oriented person develops a solid plan for their career to ensure that they make strategic and purposeful decisions that drive their mission forward. That doesn't mean you know exactly what your future looks like because you've spent very little time in the DOING role. Purposely put yourself in a position that allows you to build a hearty foundation for your skills and work experience above and beyond your current entry-level role. You’ll get noticed, and the best part is, you can take all this resume-enhancing intellectual property with you when it’s time to progress to the next level. When you’re in an interview setting, don’t share your secret plan to refine your skills only to get into a more prestigious role at a more prestigious company. Instead, talk about how you can fix an employer’s problem with your background and education.


Be a bragger

Everyone hates talking about themselves to employers. Your palms start to sweat and the stutter you didn’t know you had replaces the cool, calm, and collected responses you rehearsed in your head. For these reasons and more, people have deemed interviewing as The Worst Thing Ever. Here’s what helps: think of it as a meeting between equals who are both deciding whether or not they want to pursue a partnership. Practice your bragging skills by attending networking functions and going on as many interviews as possible – even if the role doesn’t sound perfect, it’s good practice. Once you get over the interview jitters, focus on how you present yourself. Be strategic and thoughtful with your responses rather than just listing off items from your resume. Make the connection between your skills and what they need.


Pick a job that will give you quick experience

Pick the type of work that is most beneficial to gain experience quickly. Whether it’s project-based, contract, or freelance, pick the option that makes the biggest contribution to your professional growth. Be sure to open your mind to the many industries and unique job opportunities your field of study could relate to. Think outside the box, and realize that soft skills are becoming more and more valuable to employers. For example, the new economy skills top employers are looking for are: adaptive, curious (love of learning), naturally sees patterns or trends related to the business, believes improved thinking through collaboration, enjoys spirited relationships as well as ones that challenge them, and admits mistakes.