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Engaging Students for Increased Self-Awareness

Engaging Students for Increased Self-Awareness

EACE Blog contribution by Anne Scholl-Fiedler, Vice President Career Services at Stevenson University

Drop by Career Services for a résumé review and pass go to employment.  How many times have we had students glide their résumé across the table and say, “I just need you to take a look at my résumé so I can start applying for internships (or a job).”?  Then we begin the conversation with the question of “What do you want to do?”  This is where it gets interesting.  Like a lot of things in our society, we want results fast and without too much disruption to our typical mindset and routine.  Fast food, fast internet, fast commute, fast track to earning a degree, and fast track to CEO….on the treadmill to getting where ever we are going quickly.  Where is the time for reflection?

As a career counselor at my core, I will not even look at a résumé until we have started the conversation of what motivates the person in front of me.  While I might be excited by the prospect of these conversations, I would suspect that many students might find them somewhat intimidating and not very fun.  Talking about ourselves in a very personal way is not necessarily the slant in our society, otherwise we might seem as though we are boasting or bragging.  My mentor, Dr. Bernard Haldane of the Center for Dependable Strengths, talked about individuals not realizing their full potential because of societal bias (focusing more on mistakes than successes) and cover words (job titles/majors).  What is interesting is that if you look carefully, education seems to promote this thinking, although not necessarily intentionally.  A student gets mistakes marked on an exam – why not mark the things they got right?  Colleges and universities market and promote majors – why not highlight acquired skills across disciplines?

Organizations want to hire people that are clearly in touch with what motivates them and how they can contribute to solving problems and making a profit and/or difference.  In short, they want to know about successes and the “fire in the belly” that helped them to achieve positive results.

So how do we start these conversations by not pushing out information to students, but instead pulling them in?  Today, we live by the cell phone and the iPad.  Early engagement in quick, fast, and fun technology that can be personalized could be one solution for the pull into the conversation.  I have found that Compass by Woofound and customized gaming strategies at key events have worked.  Once there, we start with the personal narrative of Good Experiences – focusing on positive achievements.  Good Experiences are very specific events or activities that a person made happen and they are things that the person felt they did well, were proud of doing, and enjoyed doing.  Through writing and verbally discussing the experiences, a clear pattern begins to emerge and the “twinkle in the eye” shows through.  This is then the beginning of self-awareness that can easily be constructed into personal branding for networking, job searching, and interviewing in a manner that is authentic and engaging.  Students then become empowered to create opportunities for themselves that are a good fit rather than looking outward and trying to fit themselves in to a box.

We live in a fast paced world, but there is no time like the present to reflect back on our Good Experiences so that we can become our own heroes, innovate in areas of motivated strength, and create a better community.

Anne Scholl-Fiedler

Anne Scholl-Fiedler

Anne Scholl-Fiedler has been appointed as the first Vice President for Career Services at Stevenson University. Scholl-Fiedler served as Director of the Career Services Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her professional background includes employer and alumni relations, developing collaborative partnerships between various organizations, and leading strategic development initiatives for university career centers. 

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