A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (06/18/04):
- Taking advantage of the pivotal junior year of high school
- Dealing with issues of possible age discrimination
- Choosing the best color suit for job interview
- Succeeding in high school — and beyond
|Q:||Cara writes: I’m going to be a junior in high school and I really want to find a major by the end of this year because I want to know what colleges I should check out. The thing is I don’t think I’ll like any job nothing really interests me except basketball. I play all the time and am absolutely in love with it. My parents think I should go into business but it sounds kind of boring. All in all I’m just really confused and am wondering what your opinion is on the whole matter.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: If you’ve read my column at all you know I am a firm believer in examining all your interests in an effort to find the best career path the best major. So your interest in sports can be combined with some of your other interests in psychology to lead to any number of careers in coaching sports management and sports psychology. Keep in mind though that as you experience new things at college — professors coaches other students – your interests may change dramatically. And that change is okay too because that’s partly what college is all about.
And while I agree with your parents that you should at least take a few business courses I think only you can decide on your major(s) and minor(s). My personal opinion is that just about any college major could be enhanced with a minor in business but hey what else might you expect a business professor to say? Business boring? No way! Don’t get me started!
This coming year – your junior year – truly is pivotal for you. I think the junior year does not get the attention it deserves’ so many critical things happen in your junior year. Consider these issues:
It’s in your junior year that you take the all-important standardized tests that will help determine your admissions fate into the colleges of your choice. In the beginning of the year the PSATs will put you on the radar of colleges based on your score. Toward the end of the year are AP exams if you have taken AP classes. Then come the SAT or ACT the two standard college admissions tests.
It’s in your junior year that you start developing — and then narrowing — a list of colleges based on any number of criteria you develop with your family and guidance counselor. It’s also a time to be thinking about career paths so that the schools you consider have majors that will help you the career path you initially have chosen.
It’s in your junior year that you should begin developing a portfolio — including a resume — that highlights your education your experiences and your accomplishments. You should do these things not only to prepare for college but for work as well.
Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers: The Importance of the High School Junior Year.
|Q:||Martin writes: Career experts advise that older applicants remove educational dates from resumes that would enable the reader to determine the applicant’s age. What do you recommend when the response to your resume is to ask specific questions such as ‘what is your year of graduation?’ (from university). From this information it is usually easy to estimate a person’s age to within a year or two. This seems to have deferred the problem not solved it. I hope you can advise on this.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Before I get to your question let me add that besides taking dates off your degrees you should also remove any work experience longer than 15 years old (unless there is some key relevancy and with experience from that long ago it is unlikely). Some experts even suggest leaving dates off your work experience though I believe you should keep the dates as long as you drop all the older stuff.
But to the heart of the matter’ The good news is that if you made it to the interview the employer definitely saw something they liked. But the bad news is that I agree with you that the question sure seems like a blatant attempt to get at your age. It may simply be curiosity but it may be much more. You could respond with something along the lines of ‘I’m not sure of the relevancy of my college graduation date can you explain?’ Or you could be even more direct: ‘I’m sensing you may have an issue with my age. If so let me assure you that I am the candidate most qualified for this position because ———.’ (Fill in the blank with keywords and qualifications.)
Of course you could also be more direct even threaten to report and/or report the employer. These are personal decisions only you can make.
As the Baby Boom generation continues to age these kinds of issues and questions will continue to arise. Most of the interviewers will be folks much younger than you and some may be intimidated while others may be suspicious of your motives. Some say as more and more boomers continue working later in life these age issues will decline.
Read more strategies for older workers in this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Mature and Older Job-Seekers — Including the Baby Boomers.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: Is black or navy blue suited for an interview in Florida?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: It’s probably one of the most overused phrases in job-hunting but also one of the most underutilized by job-seekers: dress for success. In job-hunting first impressions are critical. Remember you are marketing a product — yourself — to a potential employer and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire; thus you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking. Will dressing properly get you the job? Of course not but it will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression.
Is black or navy better? If you are a man I think either is fine as is a charcoal grey. And in Florida I think the fabric weight might be a more important issue. If you are a woman there are a couple of other color choices such as a vibrant red. You can also accent darker suits with a more colorful tie (men) or scarf (women). As for my personal tastes’ I never liked black and have actually never even owned a black suit; seems more for funerals than job interviews.
How do you know how to dress for an interview? Dressing conservatively is always the safest route but you should also try and do a little investigating of your prospective employer so that what you wear to the interview makes you look as though you fit in with the organization. If you overdress (which is rare but can happen) or underdress (the more likely scenario) the potential employer may feel that you don’t care enough about the job.
Read more in my article published on Quintessential Careers: When Job-Hunting: Dress for Success.
|Q:||Amy writes: I’m going to be a senior in high school this fall and I have college applications to fill out right around the corner… there are so many career options to think about and I don’t want to jump into anything I can’t handle…or choose a school just to find out that its not what I want to do. I’m very confused. Can you help?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You are at a critical junction in your life right now. Things may change drastically over the next few years but as a senior in high school you are certainly being asked to focus on three critical choices: career college and major.
As you go about making your choices remember that no decision is set in stone. If you end up not liking the college you attend — or it does not have the major you want to pursue — you can transfer to a different college. And many many college students graduate with a different major than the one they start with. And as far as careers go experts now predict that folks graduating from college will change their careers — not jobs but careers — at least five times over their lives as their interests change and develop and as new careers are developed.
So given all this information here are a few things you can do.
First take the time to think about what you like to do; dream and imagine ideal careers. There are so many opportunities so many different types of jobs and careers in a wide variety of industries — and there are also other career paths that are just emerging. Even if you are fairly sure of a career choice take the time to explore similar (or even vastly different) careers. Examine your likes and dislikes and take a few career assessment tests.
Second work volunteer or otherwise gain experience. The more experiences you are exposed to the more options will open to you as you search out careers. There are even a growing number of internship opportunities for high school students. Seek work and volunteer experiences in and out of school. And from a practical standpoint work experience looks good on college applications — and on future job applications and resumes.
Third talk with as many adults as possible about careers and college. The best way to find out about different careers is to ask people — family neighbors friends teachers counselors — to tell you about their career and college experiences. If you have not already begin to build a network of adults who know you and are willing to assist you in your educational and career endeavors. And for careers that truly interest you consider asking each person if you can shadow him/her at work.
Read more details about these three things — and seven more — in my latest article published on Quintessential Careers: 10 Things for High-School Students to Remember.