Everyone has an option on where you should work and what you should do. In many cases, these opinions are offered as “advice” based upon this person’s life experiences and biases.
The single biggest decision that a high school student makes is their choice of a College, University, or Trade School. Throughout their years in Higher Education, a student has a world of opportunities and choices to make. A significant decision is a choice of industry to begin a career path.
The job search process (Internet research, applying for jobs, formal interviews, etc.) helps companies identify employees that might fit with their company, but it doesn’t help students decide what career is right for them. In the absence of any formal program, students often make their decision based upon information from their informal network of friends and family acquaintances. While this helps students feel comfortable with the decision, these criteria may not be the facts that the company wants to highlight.
As the Career Fair has grown, students are seeing an increase in not only the number of companies recruiting, but also the diversity of industries represented. This adds to the challenge of making an informed choice.
At Michigan Tech, we have decided to make this process a bit more informal and exploratory while allowing students to get data directly from the companies. Our solution? Campus-wide “Industry Days”.
Companies are invited to participate in an informal “expo” style event filled with hands-on, interactive events. Students and corporate representatives are much more relaxed in this setting. The Industry focused events help students get a “30,000 foot” explanation of the career opportunities within industries, while providing students a glimpse of the future direction of the industry, allowing them to consider where their career path might take them in that industry. Some students are surprised by different opportunities available in an industry or sector they would not have considered otherwise.
For the Fall of 2014, we had days focused around the Steel Industry, Petroleum Industry, and Railroad Industry. Response from companies has been extremely positive. The spring will also include more career explorations and more opportunities to interact and engage with companies.
In the past, students treated their first job as the end of their career search. Today, a career is a journey. Our graduating students from the millennial generation are looking for diverse career options, not wanting to get ‘stuck’ in one career that becomes routine, but treating each career assignment as an opportunity to build their skill set to take on their next challenge. Industry days provides students a chance to map out their career journey.