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Posts from the ‘The Millennial Journey’ Category

The Millennial Journey: College internships are hardly optional.

By Gorick Ng

I applied for my first job at the age of 12 to support my family. I applied to housekeeping jobs, burger flipping jobs, grocery bagging jobs, and clerical jobs – and tried (poorly, in retrospect) to obfuscate my age and lack of work experience with sized-13 font and overly generous spacing for the “References Available upon Request” section in my resume. While I was all-around unsuccessful in securing a job using the resume I frankensteined together (and, instead, resorted to mowing lawns), little did I know that that experience would help me build a decade-long head start in the art of resume writing and resume building.

Ten years later, as I was writing what seemed like the hundredth iteration of my resume and cover letter in search of a full-time job after college, the edge I had built up became increasingly apparent: after having interned or worked with over two-dozen organizations from middle school through college, I was not only armed with a resume filled with work experiences, but I was also ready to pounce on any question interviewers could throw my way.

Meanwhile, to this day I see resumes from brilliant college seniors filled with demanding courses, but little substance in their experience section articulating their leadership and problem solving skills. Worse, the useless “References Available upon Request” section is somehow still present in all too many resumes I come across.

Reality struck: if you want an edge in the post-college job search, start resume-building in college.

Indeed, of the attributes that employers look for in job applicants, internships and employment ranked the highest, while college GPA and college reputation ranked the lowest.[1] With nearly 60% of graduating seniors having held at least one internship, [2] not having any work experience effectively puts you in the bottom half of the application pile – a place you do not want to find yourself.

Importance of Attributes in Evaluating Graduates for Hire

Unfortunately, such guidance too often falls on deaf freshman ears despite college career offices’ repeated attempts. Of the dozens of career counselors I have spoken to, too often do they see seniors floundering just days before commencement. One college career center I interviewed even sets up a booth adjacent to the commencement lawn.

So what’s to be done?

The message has to get out – and from as many trusted sources as possible: internships are hardly optional.

Just as Millennials find online user-generated content (messaging from peers rather than authorities) 50% more trustworthy than other (traditional) media,[3] the college career center should be but one of many bearers of this message: the message also has to come from alums, parents, mentors, and peers not in the form of a formal workshop, but rather as an insider tip on “what I wish I had known.”

Work experience matters – and having it on your resume is just as, if not even more important than good grades. Pass it on.

[1] https://chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/Employers%20Survey.pdf

[2] http://www.naceweb.org/2012-student-survey.aspx (links to 2016 report)

[3] http://corp.crowdtap.com/socialinfluence

Gorick Ng helps companies work more productively with Millennials. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist in the transition from school to work.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

 

 

The Millennial Journey: We Need to Help Students Think Long-Term

By Gorick Ng, MBA Student, Harvard Business School

Should students pick majors based on employability?

US colleges educate over 20.5 million students each year,[1] of which 75-85% will change their majors at least once.[2] The choice of major is no easy feat: for most students this will be the first consequential decision of their lives, second only to their choice of college. It is for good reason: from a future earnings perspective, picking one college major over another can yield a lifetime earnings differential of up to $3.4 million.[3]

But employability should not be the primary purpose to going to college… or should it?

There are compelling arguments on both sides: on one end are the likes of John Dewey, who in 1897 suggested that education “is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”[4] On the other end are those, who, facing over $1 trillion in student debt[5] and discouraging levels of college grad underemployment,[6] are looking to college not for intellectual stimulation, but for a job. Indeed, 91% of matriculating college students rate “to improve employment opportunities” as their reason for going to college.[7]

“I really want to study history, but studying economics will lead to a job. Which should I choose?” asked Andrew, a pragmatic college sophomore.

Then there is Margot, a college junior, who told me that “I like to read and be surrounded by books so I majored in English.” No doubt Margot would have sided with Dewey.

I have seen students like Andrew who choose a “practical” major, only to later regret the decision after showing little interest in the common post-grad paths available. I have also seen the likes of Margot later struggle marketing their English degrees to employers and who wish they had more rigorously evaluated their options earlier.

While Andrew and Margot took opposite approaches to deciding their majors, they share one commonality: they could both benefit from more visibility to the long-term implications of their decisions.

Employers, educators, and parents all have a role to play:

Educators, who are under more pressure than ever to show graduation rates and post-college job placement statistics, have a responsibility to better reveal the post-grad pathways and “value propositions” of their programs.

Employers, especially those who are experiencing a skills shortage, must more clearly articulate the skills, competencies, and knowledge they expect of new hires to take the guesswork out of applying for a job.

Parents, who may ultimately be on the hook with tuition bills, need to consider the long-term return on investment of a given program – both immediately after college and longer term.

For those who would argue that looking at college majors in isolation is overly simplistic – I am on your side. After all, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner majored in Asian studies and former astronaut Sally Ride was an English major – and many more of us are in fields that have nothing to do with our college majors. But there is little doubt that one’s major matters – and students need our help in thinking long-term.

[1] https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

[2] http://ns.eab.com/Student-Success-Collaborative-Major-Switching

[3] https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/

[4] http://dewey.pragmatism.org/creed.htm

[5] https://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/notes/feds-notes/2015/how-much-student-debt-is-out-there-20150807.html

[6] http://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2016/

[7] https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/collegedecisions/

Gorick Ng helps companies develop tactical skills training to accelerate the learning curve of new hires. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist in the transition from school to work.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

 

Introducing “The Millennial Journey”

By Gorick Ng, MBA Student, Harvard Business School

EACE is pleased to introduce “The Millennial Journey”, a monthly segment featuring the research of Gorick Ng, a Harvard Business School MBA who specializes in the transition from school to work. Over the past year Gorick has interviewed ~200 employers, students, and career counselors to understand the pain points – and opportunities – in today’s hyper-competitive economy.

Each month we will feature a new step in “The Millennial Journey”, each with a thought-provoking headline question for our community to consider.

We will begin with a Millennial’s first steps on a college campus – all the way through to when a Millennial enters their first job out of school. Our goal is not to “average” our students down to a size that fits no one; it is to share the cross-cutting emotions and pain points observed through hundreds of conversations with Millennials from all walks of life.

This monthly segment is meant for career counselors, employers, parents, and students alike. We hope there will be something for everyone.

Let’s have a substantive conversation!

About the Author:  Gorick Ng helps companies develop tactical skills training to accelerate the learning curve of new hires. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist in the transition from school to work.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

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