Friday, January 16, 2009

Teaching our next generation how to "market themselves"...



As a parent of a 20 year old….and from working in the recruiting industry through corporate America and now in education for almost 25 years, I’m continuously baffled how many (I can’t say “all”) of the “Millennials” (born between 1980 - 1995) generation can’t effectively market themselves. I think of all the money parents have spent on private tutoring, SAT Preparation Classes, private trainers, private testing (God forbid they are labeled) …. Have we done them any justice? Are they prepared to fill out a job application and talk to an employer or an admissions or career counselor and be able to answer a simple question “tell me about yourself”? Sadly, I have found that most are not. I’ve also been horrified at their basic skills and lack in basic manners. Some are naturals and can easily carry on a conversation. I’ve learned it has NOTHING to do with their academic achievements, some students are naturals at talking, you immediately have a sense that “this student will do just fine” they are comfortable to talk to adults, will look at me in the eye, will answer questions with enthusiasm and will ask appropriate questions”. Some of the high achievers don’t lift up their head when they talk, can’t vocalize their accomplishments and achievements and frequently it is their first time that they realize that being interviewed, or talking to someone is not automatically natural. I frequently remind students that whatever is posted on “facebook” is open for everyone to view… and if I was to call and hear their voicemail message is it professional or does it sound like a “grunting” kid saying “hey….leave a message”?
Our high school and college students, especially graduates, need these skills to survive. I’ve been teaching both group classes and doing private tutoring and find it’s a challenge to work with some students who need to be able to talk comfortably and not have their test scores (or their parents) be their only advocate. It’s also very rewarding when a student realizes that this is a weakness and listens and works hard to try and overcome this obstacle. I love working with students, and encourage parents to address this, do not assume your child is ready to highlight their achievements and talk about them. It’s frequently behind a closed door interview, or even during their first job interview that a basic skill like this is discovered to be so weak. In today’s highly competitive market, a personal interaction and interview can make the difference in being admitted into a college or landing that first job. I’m anxious to hear if you agree, it’s a topic that is not discussed frequently and our next generation who have all been raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think that business-as-usual ethics is for the birds.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Susan, I am a college professor and I AGREE WITH YOU! Even though I teach Philosophy and Religion I make sure to teach them life skills. Positive thinking, success skills, general comportment, people skills...cuz they need it. Of course they're smart kids. I'm glad you recognize that disconnect between their intellect and their presentation. You are performing a great service by providing professional development to folks....young and old. This is a great blog. Glad to have found you! :-)