Today we host the opinion blog article by Anna Wieczorek, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Modern Languages and the Head of Academy of Corporate and Interpersonal Skills postgraduate studies at University of Bielsko-Biala. Anna shares her tips for the educators to help the graduates better prepare themselves for the arduous journey of starting their careers.
Diagnosis of the problem
The “job story” of many graduates and freshmen in the job market is usually a rise and fall story, with the advantage of downs at the initial stages. Sometimes it is even a big bang like, for instance, presenting a CV built on a lie and being caught red handed, or gossiping about your prospective employer while waiting for an interview and not being aware that he or she is in the room (a true story of one of my students!). If such a big bang gives rise to a more entrepreneurial professional life attitude, we may call it a success, in some cases, however, it is a wing-clipping experience and the youngsters are sorry that nobody told them what to do and not to do while taking first steps in professional life. The majority of study programmes don’t include courses that would help students to successfully apply for a job, there are, however, some ways of incorporating some “HR activities” into courses at the first glance unconnected with entrepreneurship. Here’s a bunch of my personal teacher tips that can serve as an inspiration for educators teaching various subjects.
Prevention of the problem:
1. While teaching a writing class, no matter, if it is an academic writing class, or a creative writing class, I try to incorporate cover letter writing where I also smuggle 🙂 CV writing, and I mainly focus on mistakes to avoid while preparing such documents and strategies to make it interesting and outstanding in a mass of other CVs. Then I’m looking for a few real job offers that they may find interesting and they are to prepare a CV and then, in a cover letter, stress only those abilities and skills (also soft skills) that they find relevant with relation to that given offer.
2. While teaching interpersonal or intercultural communication class, I don’t only focus on some theories of communication, Hofstede and his dimensions of culture, culture shock, etc, but try to role-play some real-life situations with the students, like, for instance, dealing with intercultural differences while applying for a job in a foreign country; answering difficult interview questions (at the same time we analyse the typical interview questions and try to come up with original answers which would make the recruitment officer remember them). We also discuss strategies of dealing with stress in interpersonal communication (for instance, while having an interview, or at work, in a team, etc.)
3. While teaching a public speaking class, we work with a camera, focus a lot on body language, dress codes, situational audience analysis and all these aspects are also crucial while the first encounter with your future boss. As an exam task, my students are asked to prepare a recording for a prospective employer – they are given a job offer and they are to analyse, who the employer might be and which qualifications and skills they may expect. Then they try to “sell” themselves – they are to present their real qualifications and personality traits and convince the employer that they are ideal candidates. Alternatively, they are asked to prepare a spot for prospective voters, assuming they candidate to a city council. Afterwards we watch the recording and they get feedback. At first they dislike the exercise, but later admit they find it really helpful.
These are mine most often used strategies to make my regular students more prepared for professional adulthood, what are your tips? We encourage you to share and think about your superpower in helping your students become more independent!
Provided by: University of Bielsko-Biala
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