• Lynn Miner-Rosen

Start Planning for a Job as a College Freshman

Many students heading to college in the fall have no idea what they want to do AFTER college. That is understandable, however, actions could be taken early to plan for a job as soon as they graduate college.

College students with ADHD, ASD, EFD or other learning differences will most likely face unique challenges in college and not know the best route towards their career of choice. Those students will benefit the MOST from starting NOW to learn and practice ways to meet the general and specific qualifications of a job.

A 2010 study by the Kessler Foundation/National Organization on Disability (NOD) and the Harris Interactive, about 60% of college graduates with a disability are not employed. Students with a disability take twice as long to secure a job after graduation than their non-disabled counterparts.

Students, with or without disabilities, will need to demonstrate that they have some transferable skills – that can be acquired through education, practice and previous work experience. Those transferable skills are oral and written communication, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, trouble-shooting, decision making and critical thinking. These skills do not always come naturally and can be particularly challenging for students with ADHD, ASD, EFD and learning differences.

Students need to be as proactive as they can while they are in college to help them get a head start toward a job after college. These same students will need support from their teachers, friends, family and coaches for this process of career planning and career development during college. NOW, not later, is the time for students to get ahead of the game:

1. Join Clubs, Committees, Organizations or Student Government.

Adding clubs or teams to your resume signals to potential employers that you have experience with group dynamics, conflict resolution and communication. Joining clubs is a great way to make new friends and practice those transferable skills.

2. Utilize the Career Center and Disability Center Offices.

Career Centers have a huge amount of resources. Students can benefit from taking advantage of at least one, if not all, of the services offered. Some of those services are: assessment testing, resume development, training for interviews, career counseling, career fairs, internship connections, workshops, seminars and expert speakers.

3. Be a Star – Volunteer

Volunteering helps students learn about teamwork, compassion, face-to-face communication and leadership skills in a supportive environment. In addition, students can use this experience to explore their interests and abilities prior to paid employment. Volunteering looks great on a resume! Tip: Always make sure you get a written recommendation from a supervisor.

4. Update Your Digital Presence

Be mindful that colleges and potential employers might be looking at your digital profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram! Do what you can to delete or clean up your social presence and assume that everyone can see it. Consider if what you have posted is good enough to be on a job bulletin board.

5. Get to Know Your Professors

It is KEY for students to know the people in their school – professors, administrators, counselors. Professors are a huge resource in terms of advice and connection. A written recommendation from a professor can carry a lot of weight when looking for an internship or job.

6. Network and Stay In Touch

You never know who could be helpful to your career down the road. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a connection for career advice, introductions, job shadowing options, or potential opportunities. It is great practice talking to people and making face-to-face connections. The more you network the more comfortable you will be.