The Concept of Mattering – Why It’s Important to College Students

Working with college students and new grads daily running Career Onward, a personalized career advisory company, we knew that mental health and support play significant roles in the transition outcomes from college to a career. Yet, we also understood there was more to it – we had more to learn.

I wasn’t familiar with the concept of Mattering until listening to an interview by Mattering expert Gregory Elliott, Pd.D., Professor of Sociology at Brown University. Listen to the full interview here. (https://motivislearning.com/insights/gregory-elliott-interview/. We now realize that Mattering is a key component to this successful college to career transition.

 

Excerpts from the Interview with Gregory Elliot, Ph.D.

What is Mattering?

Mattering is the understanding that, in any of a variety of ways, you make a difference in the world around you. It’s kind of like the obverse notion of significant other. So if a significant other is someone who makes a difference in your life, the question of mattering is whether you make a difference in anybody else’s life.

3 Types of Mattering

There are three different kinds of mattering, all of which are important. The first one is very basic, very fundamental, and I call it awareness. It is basically the question of whether you can capture other people’s attention. So when you walk into a room, do people at least look up and notice that you’ve come in? If you say something, do people acknowledge that they heard it? Can people put a name to your face? It’s a basic notion that I am not socially invisible.

Then there are two other kinds of mattering that are more relationship-oriented. The first one is called importance. With importance, it’s a matter of; do you recognize that people invest in your welfare? So for example, if something really good happens to you, does anyone else care? Or on the other side, if you have a really bad day, is there someone you can lean on because they’ll take the time to be with you? The question is whether people will take some of their precious resources, including time, and spend it on you because they want to improve your welfare.

The last one is the kind of reverse of importance and I call it reliance. That is, do people come to you with their wants and needs? Do people ask your advice about any problem that they might be having? Do people want your opinion on social and political issues? Do people turn to you when they’re having a bad time?

 

Improving College to Career Outcomes

Since parents still play the largest role in the college to career transition, I hope through education, parents can better understand Mattering as it relates to their son or daughter. Better yet, my wish is that every college student would understand the three different kinds of Mattering and support their friends and fellow students during one of the most difficult life transitions they will make.

As we know, it takes much more than strong academics and robust skills for student to acquire “right fit” jobs and companies.  Mattering matters.

5 Skills You Can Build This Summer, That Employers Actually Want!

 

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  We’ve done the heavy lifting and curated great sites to help you get started.

Some of these are free, others are cheap, and a few are pricey, yet intensive and highly respected.

Udemy                   lynda.com                   Codeacademy

Cousera                   Skillshare                    Khan Academy

TED-Ed                    Squareknot                       DataCamp

DataMonkey           General Assembly        LinkedIn Learning

With so many resources it can be hard to know where to start! Acquiring these 5 skills will help you stand out with employers.

  1. Project Management

The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that between 2010 and 2020, 15.7 million project-management positions will be created globally. They also report that an applicant with a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can earn and extra 16% more than those without it. Not ready to commit to a certification program, check out Trello or MS Project online videos to learn these project management tools.

  1. Excel

This isn’t just about making pretty spreadsheets, employers want to know that you can take it to the next level by manipulating and analyzing data. Pivot tables, VBA, and Array Functions are a few examples of how you can make data work for you. Even if data analytics isn’t the kind of career you’re looking for, being able to expertly use Excel makes you valuable to any team.

  1. Social Media Marketing

Social media is about more than retweeting your favorite celebs on Twitter and trolling Facebook for memes. Employers are looking for people with Search Engine Optimization skills because promoting a brand through a social network requires strategy. If you’re well-versed with social media platforms, include it among your skills on your résumé. These are increasingly important, especially if you’re planning to work in marketing, online publishing or public relations. Developing your own strong following on these platforms can affirm your skills to employers too. If SEO is a new acronym, take an online course and you will stand out. If you have a summer internship, volunteer to create content for their social media channels too.

  1. Writing

Nearly every job description requires “strong communication skills.” As a result, everyone claims to have these skills. Given this high employer need, the best way to demonstrate this skills is to show it by including links to publications or blog posts. If you don’t have public posts you can reference, take an online writing course, or two, then ask your employer if you can create some content, start your own blog, or write for a student publications at your university.

  1. Programming Languages

Since everything has moved online, demand for programmers and web developers has never been higher.  Even if you’re not technical, HTML, SQL, and Java can help you stand out.

 

The Job Search Process – Where Do I Start?

A blank piece of paper can be inspiring or intimidating, a clean slate or a lack of ideas. The start of the job search process looks like a big white space to most college students and new college grads.

Before you “do something” which typically means applying to a myriad of jobs you know little or care nothing about, I encourage you to honestly evaluate and rank your personal priorities first so you can use this list as a roadmap to direct your search.

Think about and rank the importance of these factors relative to one another so you can see what’s important to you (not your roommate, sibling, or parents)

  • Money – salary range for the jobs/areas of interest
  • Geographic location – specify where you want to live
  • Mission and Value – the importance your values align with the company
  • Company – a list of companies you admire and would move anywhere for
  • Job role – you are driven by what you do every day in terms activities
  • Industry – you have an aversion or a passion for a specific industry
  • Company culture – physical location and team environment
  • Company size – start-up, mid size or Fortune 500

Once this exercise is complete, you will have learned a lot about yourself. Plus, these findings can drive your next steps.

 

The Value of Volunteering Off-Campus

Many college students spend a significant amount of time trying to fit in. When it comes to the job search process, the goal is the opposite. How do I stand out from the crowd?

One of the easiest and most meaningful ways is to determine where you volunteer your time and what skills you build or apply to the organization. The opportunity to contribute to an organization you truly care about is available in almost any college town.

Instead of dedicating all your time to campus organizations, explore music or art non-profits if this is your personal or professional area of interest. Volunteer to apply your marketing or fundraising skills to a pet shelter or food bank or improve your foreign language skills teaching computer classes at a local refugee center.

Your passion will shine through in your interviews and your authentic stories will be different and memorable to recruiters. Be different, step off campus and lend your valuable skills to a well –deserving non-profit. I’m sure you will reap more benefits than they do.

 

Are You Considering Growth when Choosing a Career Path?

Not since the Industrial Revolution has there been so much disruption in the global labor market. The share economy (uber, Airbnb…) didn’t exist 10 years ago. Driverless vehicles, consumer space flight, and new artificial intelligence and virtual reality applications will forever change careers in many diverse industries including law and medicine.

Historically, the top earning potential for women has peaked at 39, 48 years old for men. In this time of massive disruption, it’s important to target roles and industries that are forecasted to grow so you are not forced re-invent yourself due to a lack of job growth or job loss in your highest financial performing years.

Check out these 10 career fields that are forecasted to grow:

http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2012/09/10/10-businesses-that-will-boom-in-2020

Balance Your Hard Skills with In-Demand Soft Skills

Employers will be the first to admit that effective soft skills in combination with proven hard skills are the key to success. This is especially true for students pursuing internships and entry level positions post graduation as most jobs will require team and project based work.

I get asked often, what are soft skills and which ones do employers care about?

Soft skills are harder to measure and are sometimes referred to as someone’s Emotional Intelligence. The all involve communications skills and the ability to collaborate and get along with others.

Check out these top 10 soft skills to ensure you are building these in campus clubs, professional student organizations or part-time work.

https://www.thebalance.com/top-soft-skills-2063721

The good news – soft skills can be learned, yet they need to be put in to practice so you can discuss examples during your interviews.

3 Tips for Tapping the Hidden Job Market

I am a witness to the reality that 60-70%+ of all jobs are not posted. As a personalized career advisor for college students and new grads, I routinely get calls from friends and colleagues asking if I can refer someone with a particular skill set.

This is also why we have our clients spend a significant amount of time reaching out to professionals at the companies and in the roles they think they want to pursue so they learn about the company culture, skills required, and activities performed before they ever apply for a job. Most importantly, our students learn what roles are best for them from the employer perspective, if they will be hiring, when, and who else they should connect with to move things forward.

Tips for tapping the hidden job market:

  1. Make a list of companies that you are interested in and use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to contacts that are currently in the role you want to explore
  2. Research alums that were in your sorority, fraternity, club or professional organizations as recent grads tend to be the most helpful (they remember how stressful the job search process really is!)
  3. Tap your neighbors and parent’s networks for contacts at companies you want to target

The advantages to this approach are many; you’re building relationships, practicing your informational interviewing skills, and learning a lot about what you do and don’t want to do in the process.

Isn’t this better use of your time than spending hours a day blindly applying to job postings online?

3 Tips for Successful Holiday Networking

The holidays are a time of merriment and good cheer, so it’s a great networking opportunity to meet or re-connect with extended family and friends in a low stress social setting. Your goal – articulate a 30 second pitch so you can follow-up with a nice LinkedIn note and a request for an informational meeting […]

Job Search Tips: What Companies Do You Love?

Everyone has a brand affinity or obsession with a product or company – think about your sleek water bottle, favorite cooler or new mobile app. Why not research these companies first when starting your job search process? Your passion for the product will be apparent in your communications and interviews. Do what you love!

What companies do you want to explore? We can’t wait to hear what’s on your list!

 

-Lori

Choosing a College Major – 5 Tips to Taking a Different Approach

The stats on college majors are surprising to both students and parents alike.

  • Over 50% of students who have declared a major in college will change it at least once, many up to 3 times
  • Cost of changing a major is significant, $15,000+ due to delayed graduation and lost wages

These sobering stats demonstrate that students are unprepared and ill-informed when it comes to selecting a major.

How Did We Get Here?

Typically, students pick their college first, then their major, and finally junior or senior year, they start thinking about careers when it’s time to search for an internship or full-time employment.

How Can We Change the Outcome?

We want students to change their thinking. Instead of focusing on a college roadmap that is usually course-based to graduate, we want students to think more holistically in terms of a career roadmap. This roadmap combines academic plans with career components so students learn more about themselves and their career options before picking a major.

Just as importantly, if a student has already picked a major, it’s critical they learn what types of jobs they can do both within and outside their major so ideally, they don’t change it.

5 Things To Do Before Choosing or Switching a Major

  1. Conduct self-assessments – What do I love/hate to do? What are my gifts?
  2. Talk with Career Services to learn what assessments tests are available (Birkman, Myers/Briggs, Strong, or others) for free or at a reduced rate for students
  3. Read StrengthsFinders 2.0 and take the online assessment for only $15 http://www.amazon.com/StrengthsFinder-2-0-Tom-Rath/dp/159562015X
  4. Research career options and growth projections with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook handbook http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  5. Check out O*Net Online http://www.onetonline.org for specifics on job roles

The good news – there are great resources available. The key is to make the decision to invest the time. Trust me, the investment is worth it as it can save you money now and positively affect the next 30-40 years of your life.