November 10, 2010
Young and new to the workforce? This free online course can help
So much of today's advice aimed at students and recent graduates centers on how to find a paid job in our droopy economy. But navigating the work world as a twentysomething doesn't stop with the job interview process.
Once you've landed your first entry-level position, there's knowing when -- and how -- to make suggestions about the projects and processes taking place in your office, and knowing when to keep your mouth shut. There's being a resourceful self-starter who doesn't require any hand-holding, and being a renegade that managers can't trust to follow directions or collaborate with others. There's walking the fine line between being your warm, friendly, sociable self, and being branded the office slacker who loves to chat but hates to do any actual work.
To help ease the rocky transition between classroom and career, Business Roundtable and HR Policy Association launched JobSTART 101 this month -- a free 90-minute online course designed to better prepare college students and recent grads for the workforce. Topics covered include developing a professional reputation, solving problems autonomously, and communicating effectively with managers and colleagues, says workplace expert Alexandra Levit, JobSTART 101's online instructor.
I asked Levit how current and hopeful entry-level workers can get the most from this interactive course. Here's what she suggested:
Take your time with each section. Each of the six modules is filled with anecdotes and engaging graphics to keep you interested, but it's a lot of content for 90 minutes. Your best bet is to watch the modules one at a time so that you can stay focused.
As you watch, jot down the points that resonate with you. Then download the PDF workbook and answer the follow-up questions on your own. You may even want to compare your answers with another young professional who has also reviewed the course to glean additional insights that you may have missed.
Talk through what you learned in the course with a real-world mentor. Think college professor, guidance counselor, or a relative you normally go to for career advice. Express what most intimidates you and excites you about working in the business world. Listen as they share their experiences about what they wish they'd known when they first graduated from college.
If you're gearing up for your first real-world job, don't be too proud to take up Levit and the other kind people behind this course on all the helpful advice they're offering you. One, it's free. Two, it's presented in a fun, supportive, non-condescending way. Three, it could make the difference between feeling horribly awkward those first few weeks at your new job and fitting in without a hitch.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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