Career Planning Tips

Career Planning Tips

Useful tips and guidance for career planning.

Determining Your Goals

Many entering freshmen are undecided about a major when they enter college. It is not a bad thing to be undecided in what you want to specialize in. It can be an advantage to be able to explore various options. You can fulfill your general requirements by enrolling in courses from different departments. Try to take courses in as many areas as possible to completely test your ability and skills in diverse areas. Eventually, you will find an area to which you are best suited (along with having knowledge of many other areas).

Your career planning should start from your freshmen year of college. Accounting, finance, marketing, public relations, hospitality and many others are all majors that contribute in the tourism industry. Your college career center should have a test set up that will tell you what profession will best suit you. This is one of the first things you should do when you first enter your college.

Do not feel that freshmen year is too early to start your internships during the summer. Many summer students are hired full- time with a company after graduation because they have interned continuously all summer.

The job search can take you many months until you land a job. Looking for a full time position should start at the beginning of your senior year. Networking is an important skill that is required to get a job as well work on projects after you get a job. Make sure you attend all career fairs and meet with employers. After, you get a job, try to negotiate and projects that you feel will help your advancement within the organization.
^return to top

Doing The Research

Job search requires a lot of research. Not just using the Internet. It also involves speaking to people from various fields such as Public Relations, Accounts, Finance, Marketing and Travel etc.

Researching job descriptions is also a good idea in learning what skills are required by each position. Not only will this help to see where you fit in organization but give you the overall knowledge of exactly what each department does in the company.

If you have an interest in tourism -related jobs, you will have to know what tourism is all about. Learn what contributes to the tourism industry such as hotels, airlines, tour operators, travel agents etc. Learn what kind of opportunities can arise in each of these sectors. Learn how tourism affects the Bahamian economy.

Conduct research on internet sites such as, www.tourismbahamas.org, www.onecaribbean.org and www.wttc.org (world travel & tourism council)which are good places to start, and read books on the subject, particularly about the tourism industry at an international level.
^return to top

Write the Resume

Writing a good resume is important to ensuring that you receive the job you want upon graduation, or at any given time in your life. It is important to note that if you have just graduated, you should not feel overwhelmed or extremely pressured to create that perfect resume. In this instance, your job experience is limited; consisting of minor tasks that you did on a full or part-time basis.

Be honest and highlight your educational background first, and then move on to job experience. Your resume will be the first image you present to potential employers.

Here are a few resume writing tips that you can follow when creating a resume:

1. Use titles or headings that describe the job you want

a. With employers receiving hundreds of resumes you must make sure that your resume grabs an employer's attention. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and describe the jobs you want.

2. Use layouts that grab attention

a. Employers make snap judgments when glancing at your resume. If they see unrelated job titles or skills, the likelihood is very high that they will make an immediate assumption, so design your resume to highlight the most important information about your work experience, skills and education.

3. Prioritize the content of your resume

a. Another big mistake that job seekers make is to list important information at the bottom of the resume. Prioritize your statements by importance and relevance to the job you want.

4. Tweak and target your resumes and cover letters

a. You will generate many more interviews by tweaking your resume and cover letter so that they address the specific skills each employer requests. For example, Shanique originally wanted a customer service position, then found an ad for Retail Management position. Do you think headings in the right hand column will generate more and better interviews for Retail Management Position?

Customer Service – Retail Management / Customer Service

Cash Accountability – Cash Accountability / Supervision of Retail Stations

Computer Skills – Retail Accounting Application

Sally’s actual title had been Lead Cashier, even though she managed her own retail cashiering station in addition to 6 other cashiers and stations. Once Sally had created her original resume, it only took about 5 minutes to tweak and re-label her skill descriptions to fit Retail Management positions. This “re-labeling” is entirely truthful and is extremely important in landing more interviews because it allows job seekers to apply for and appear qualified for a wider range of jobs.

Remember that resumes are selling tools used to advertise yourself to employers. Your resume almost becomes as important as the skills you have acquired. Having a good resume can mean the difference between getting hired and waiting for the phone to ring.
^return to top

Network for Success

As discussed in Determining your goals, if you are undecided, you should take various courses that will help you decide what major is best suited for you. It is also a good idea to engage in internships in various organizations to get the feel of the practical side of things.

During your internships you should attempt to learn as much as possible by asking questions of various people in the industry. Make your connections with these people as well as tell them what you find interesting about their jobs and your tasks. After the internship, keep in touch with people in the industry with whom you have connected. These same people can help you land a job after you graduate from college by providing positive references.

Career fairs are another way to meet many employers. Meeting employers as well as asking questions about a company will help you to become familiar with people and different types of employment. Attend seminars within the industry, as this will help to introduce you to a diverse group of people and identify new opportunities for advancement.
^return to top

Clinch a Job Interview

Before any interview it is important to complete in-depth research the company that you are interested in. Learn about the company and its competitors as well as where the company stands in the marketplace. See how best you fit the job description for the position you are interviewing for. Read other job descriptions for jobs that are advertised as well to see if you can fit any other areas just incase there is availability for you in those areas as well.

Here are some job interview tips for making a good first impression:

Job Interview Tips:

SIMULATE THE INTERVIEW

Practice answering interview questions and practice your responses to the typical job interview questions and answers most employers ask. Think of actual examples you can use to describe your skills. Providing evidence of your successes is a great way to promote your candidacy.

ANTICIPATE QUESTIONS & PREPARE RESPONSES

Prepare a response so you can answer the question, What do you know about our company? Know the interviewer’s name and use it during the job interview. If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions.

GET READY

Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note taking.

BE TIMELY

Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the office ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there.

STAY CALM

During the job interview try to relax and stay as calm possible. Take a moment to re-group. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question!

SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW

Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your strengths or career accomplishments, think about the company’s needs and tailor your answers based on what the company is looking for.
^return to top

Financing Your College Education

College is a big step for most persons. It involves a number of adjustments personally for the students as well as their parents or sponsors. For parents who have never had to deal with the question of school fees, the cost of college tuition and books could be daunting. They may also be discouraged by what may be perceived to be too high a cost.

Even though college can be costly to those who have never been burdened with school fees, to many who send their children to private schools here in The Bahamas the cost of local college is a welcome respite from the much higher private school fees. For such persons it is worth pursuing the local options first before considering sending their children abroad.

But no matter at which end of the spectrum you find yourself the entire process of searching, applying and securing admission to college cannot be completed without proper attention given to planning the finances. This is important for a number of reasons:

1. It is simply a good practice to plan.
2. Planning can go a long way in ensuring that there are enough funds for completion once the student begins in a course of study
3. College costs vary significantly and planning allows analysis of the options in terms of value for money.
4. It can be a strategy for dealing with lack of sufficient personal funds.
5. It can avoid the disruption to regular family life.

The first consideration is to begin planning early. There are those who begin planning for their children's college education at birth. In the state of Florida, for instance, persons are encouraged to prepay their children’s tuition to today’s tuition rate before their children reach college age. This prevents them from having to face the increased tuition costs by the time their children are ready to enter college.

It is worthwhile to realize that it is never too early to consider planning financially for college. There are a number of life insurance related products that make this strategy possible.
^return to top

Choosing the Right College

The decision to attend college is a major one, which requires the attention of the parent and the student alike. For the parent it represents a significant financial commitment. Many see this as investing in their children's future and like any other major investments, the best possible return is expected. For the student, it means dealing with the mixed emotions of sadness and joy; sadness resulting from leaving behind friends and family and joy from attaining a sense of independence.

While college is an excellent choice for high school graduates, it should not be the only immediate option. There are a number of options from which he or she may choose, including, finding employment right away, keeping busy by participating in various skills development projects or just taking time off to travel for a while for exposure to various cultures and ways of doing things.

Whatever the choice, it should be made after a careful review of the available alternatives and their contribution to overall personal and vocational goals.

Once a decision to attend college has been made, careful planning must take place in selecting the right school, one that will most readily meet the particular needs of the student.

This planning should start as early as the beginning of the 11th grade or two years prior to the intended date of enrollment. By starting early the parent and student are better able to plan necessary activities.

What factors should contribute in finding the right college?

A) Size
B) Location
C) Type of College

Size

Size is an important factor when considering a college because it depends on your ability to learn in different environments. Are you able to ask a question among a class of 150 students? Are you able to ask a question among a class of 50 students? Do you need personalize attention from a professor then you would prefer to be in a small class room with fewer students. Will you feel lost in a big campus with a lot of students? Ask these questions to determine what you size college you would prefer.

Location

Location of a college matters as well when looking for a college. Think realistically how far you want to be from home? Remember the further you are away from home the more of a culture shock you will face. It may not be easy at first to adjust, but it is important to face it because it makes you a more broad minded person breaking all barriers of ignorance. The skills of doing projects with students from all over the world will help you to work in an international atmosphere. However, not everyone is able to bear a vast culture shock as well as be far a way from home. Decide how you how far you really want to be away from home.

Type of College

If you are undecided on your major it would be better to go to a college that offers every major possible to have exposure to as many fields as possible.. However, if you have decided and are very sure in particular specialization it may be a good idea to go to a specialized school. By this you will have a more focused program and be able to concentrate on building skills in the area you want to specialize in.
^return to top

Funding Options

Insurance

One of the ways that one can begin planning for finances for college is to speak with an insurance agent about a life insurance product that focuses on planning for college. There are policies that insurance companies offer for children at birth, so that by the time they are ready for college, the monies are available.

Some other ways insurance can be used in financing a college education:
1. Loans against cash values;
2. Withdrawal of the matured value of insurance at maturity;
3. Protection for life sponsor;
4. Proceeds of life insurance in the event of death of another; and
5. College Savings Plans

Insurance agents are familiar with the plans that may suit your needs, so be frank in telling them what your needs really are.

Other Savings Plans:
Many financial institutions also offer a means of savings for college with no service charge incentives. If there is a downfall to these programmes it would be the lack of protection in the event of the incapacitation or death of the contributor.

For the most part, the programmes are flexible and pay the highest returns available at their particular institutions. They tend to be self-managed and can often assist in determining whether the institutions will advance further monies when needed for college later. Mutual funds have now become another worthwhile option for Bahamians. Investments of $1,000 or more are usually needed for such plans.

Loans:

An education loan for our purposes allows for principal payments to begin six months after completing the course of study. Such loans are offered by government and some commercial banks. However, many educational loans are offered for specific areas of study, so it is advisable to find out first if they are available for your particular area of interest. You should also find out other criteria needed to qualify and decide who is going to pay for it

Bonded Scholarships

There are many different types of scholarships offered for studies on various levels but they can be broadly categorized as either grants or bonded scholarships and will require that the recipient pledge to work for the grantor on completion of studies.

Included in the category of bonded scholarships are In-Service Training Awards and Tuition Reimbursement Programmes. These are benefits that employers provide for employees which usually have conditions attached regarding the level of performance in an approved programme.

Scholarships Grants:

A scholarships grant would not require that the recipient work for the grantor but in some cases it may require that he or she adheres to some stipulation(s) upon completion of studies; for instance it may require that he or she return to the country.

Work-Study:

Many students are eligible for part-time jobs on campus but usually only enough funds can be earned from such programmes to supplement living expenses.

Exemption Examinations:

Standardized exemption examinations such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES are not necessarily sources of funding but they can be useful in reducing the cost of studies in the United States by reducing tuition costs as well as the length of your programme and consequently living expenses.

Even though these funding options exist, it takes much long-range planning to be able to take full advantage of them. The planning tool, Financial Worksheets for Families with College Bound Students included in Appendix C many assist families and individuals in planning how to manage finances for college.

Once you have completed the worksheets should be able to determine how much you can afford to contribute yourself, and how much you will require from other sources. It will allow you to determine what resources you have available and how you may apply them to tap into other funds, if at the end of the process you determine that you don?t have the funds to afford your institution of choice, it is time to become creative: What about the possibility of part-time study? What about a reduced load of courses over a longer period? What about exemption examinations such as CLEP?

Use this guide and begin planning today. Although there is no guarantee that it will speak to all of your questions, it is certainly a starting point. Indeed, each situation is unique, but all situations require planning in order for them to be successful.
^return to top