By Derek Grahn

Good morning, afternoon, or evening everyone!

Over the last few months, I’ve had the chance to visit with many different companies about the importance of finding ways to get their company and career paths within their organizations in front of students. As a former Business Education Teacher in Minnesota and North Dakota, I like to share a story about how students think about their careers in the future.

In my classroom, I was very proud of a project that I had my 8th grade students do – they had to complete an Industry Report in which students were required to choose an industry that may interest them (healthcare, agriculture, and technology being very popular – although Social Media Influencers were on the rise!) and find three jobs within that industry, conduct three interviews, and research the projected job growth, education requirements, and highlights of the industry. It was an incredibly enjoyable project and one that many of my graduating seniors said was the most rewarding project they did in my class. And without a doubt, 90% of these students would pick extremely predictable jobs – the career that mom or dad do, a career that a family friend or relative does, and a few popular jobs that they are familiar with, such as a nurse, teacher, or police officer. Unfortunately, many students did not have the opportunity to learn about different careers due to a variety of other priorities within their educational path.

For companies looking for a reason to promote the careers within your company: having the opportunity to share great career paths while students are still making decisions about their personal goals will give them insight to find a career that is truly what they want to do, rather than what an individual close to them would want to do.

On a more personal note, I chose to attend college with a degree in Accounting. For my generation, the decision to go to college wasn’t up to me. As a 17-year-old, I committed to a university, agreed to pay thousands of dollars in tuition, and headed out to a degree that I really didn’t know would lead to a career. And if you took a wild guess, you would probably notice that I’m not working for an Accounting firm today. After many degree changes, I settled on teaching, but this wasn’t before plenty of extra bills that could have been avoided had I developed a better picture of my career options as a student. My guess is that many of you reading this are nodding along and felt stuck in a similar situation when you were a student. Fortunately, our society is seeing a shift back to allowing students to have more options on what they want to go into – 4-year universities, tech schools, or working immediately after graduation are all opportunities that can lead to great career paths that fit individual students.

If there are three takeaways that you grab from this brief blog post, I hope:

  1. You understand the importance of sharing career opportunities with students
  2. You can see how tapping into our future workforce can benefit your company’s recruiting needs
  3. You recognize how you could save today’s students from the headache that I (and likely, many of you!) experienced when trying to make the best career decisions for ourselves without the information we needed.