Summer is a key time for students to gain real-life work experience as they explore potential careers. Jeff Selingo, education expert and author of the new book, There is Life After College, was recently featured on the Upgraded by Hobsons podcast, offering advice to high school and college students.

Here are three tips to consider:

1. Use high school as a time for career exploration.

According to Selingo, high school students should make the most of their teenage years by exploring potential careers so they can start college with a focus and a plan. Volunteering or getting a job during the school year or during summer breaks helps students try out different careers while building their resumes and their networks.

2. Take a gap year.

Postponing college and taking a gap year can give students time to mature and to explore career options or gain a variety of life experiences after high school so they’ll be better prepared for college.

“Increasingly students are using gap year, not only to travel but to work and do National Service, to do internships, to do other types of work while you try to figure out what you want to do,” said Selingo.

3. Obtain a college internship before senior year.

Once in college, Selingo urges students to start right away to identify opportunities for real-world experience as they study rather than waiting until senior year to secure internships or employment in their chosen field. He suggests students begin networking with potential employers during their freshman year to identify skills-building opportunities outside of the classroom, either through a formal internship program or through a traditional job search.

In his research for the book, Selingo has talked with numerous employers to discover what a valuable candidate looks like. “Mostly, they’re looking for soft skills, the ability to work in teams, the ability to communicate, the ability to solve problems, the ability to navigate ambiguity,” explains Selingo. And while classroom work is important, Selingo says, pairing academics with practical on-the-job learning is more effective in helping students develop the skills they need to be successful -- in their careers and in life.

For more advice from Jeff Selingo, listen to our podcast segment below. And, those attending Naviance Summer Institute in July will be able to hear Selingo speak live during the event.


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