Sometimes, students are clueless on where they should begin their job or internship search. They may not be able to think past the obvious words associated with their course of study, like: finance, psychology, or business. So before they begin to look for opportunities based on these broad terms, I require them to have a bit of fun with the search.
First, based on the student’s expressed interests, assessment results, or current major, I have them conduct an ordinary search using a major job board. I don’t give them any special instructions, other than to look for a position that they could not realistically apply for right away; they simply need to find a job that really excites them. Once they have found their “dream job” posting, we use it as a motivational tool and guide for what jobs or internships they may actually qualify for.
Dream Job for Career Planning/Motivation:
For this portion of the exercise, the “education” or “experience” sections of the dream job description will be most helpful. This information gives the student insight into what skills or credentials they might be lacking, and in enough time for them to start acquiring them. By conducting a gap analysis, they can identify some differences between what they have to offer and what the employer is looking for. The dream job posting is a tangible reminder that with the right planning, they could someday have a position like this.
- Am I on the right academic path to someday qualify for this job?
- What experience can I get now to better prepare me?
Dream Job as a Search Guide
Based on the “job duties “or “skills” sections of the dream job posting, the student should highlight words that they are naturally drawn to. This might include keywords such as: “patient,” “direct,” “counsel,” “analyze,” “create,” or “research”. Now, the student is ready to combine some of these specific words with broader terms to find internships or entry-level jobs that they actually qualify for.
- Which of these job duties am I most excited to perform?
- Are their entry-level jobs that include some of these same skills and responsibilities?
By having the student first find a dream job posting, they are able to identify their instinctive interests and where they’d want to be in a few years. This way, even if they fall short of securing this type of position, they are further along than they would have been if they’d never began planning their education and professional development based on their ideal job!