Job searching is tough and not even seasoned careerists have all the answers – but college students often enter the workforce and begin their careers at a disadvantage. College students career counseling services at their universities may be underfunded, understaffed, or under advertised, or students simply might not know to ask about them.
The end result, though, is the same: highly qualified people miss out on early career opportunities. At Lensa, we believe that every job seeker should have access to the best information to make smart career decisions, no matter what their age, background, income level, or gender orientation is. That’s why we were excited to learn more about how Dasha helps students map the path to achieving their career goals.
Dasha shared her process and motivation with us and gave us some powerful insights into how she is “paying it forward” and filling in knowledge gaps for an underserved segment of the workforce – the young people who will be the career leaders of tomorrow. Here are the top college students career counseling insights to know.
Lensa: Welcome to Lensa Q&A.
Dasha: Thank you so much for having me.
Lensa: What challenges do recent graduates and college students face on the job market and how can they overcome those challenges?
Dasha: Students definitely face poor interview skills. They don’t learn how to prep correctly for interviews. So when they go into a job, after they graduate, 95% of them flunk that because of poor skills, unrealistic expectations, and lack of clear direction. A lot of the time, students don’t really know what to look for or how to search for a job. So they are kind of flustered when they graduate. They don’t know where to go or where to start. Those are some of the unique challenges that they face.
Lensa: What do you tell students who want to follow their passion but also expect a six-figure starting salary?
Dasha: Oh, that’s my favorite question. Well, first, I’m honest with them, and I tell them that that’s not realistic. But I do also encourage them to research and look at particular sites like LinkedIn. They have a really great place to really understand what they could be making in a starting role. And I also tell them that they can get to that salary, but it’s going to take some hard work. It’s going to take them being a dedicated employee and showing up every day and doing the best that they can to get there.
Lensa: What are your top 3 job interview tips for recent college graduates?
Dasha: I would say that the very first is not to be late, and then I think that the other is to do your research beforehand. It’s really important for students to explore the company page that they’re interviewing for and also to review the job description and really be prepared to correlate the responsibilities of that job description to the interview.
The last thing that is super important is to ask questions during the interview, because if students go in and just go through the interview, not asking any questions, they’re not going to understand what the job actually entails. So I always encourage them to ask about the day to day, what the culture is like, what type of diversity the company has. And that way they’ll really understand if they will love doing the job, because a lot of the time they go in and just take the job and then they’re miserable for the next three years and then they leave and they look really jumpy on their resume.
Lensa: What services do you offer as a career coach that are missing at universities?
Dasha: What I offer is connection and friendship. I don’t just go in and talk to students for 40 minutes about what they would like to do with their life. I learn about them. I get to know them. I ask them what they enjoy doing, what hobbies they have, because that is going to allow me to understand what it is they will enjoy doing in the job. So I think that’s the number one thing that I offer. And I’m not afraid to jump on as many video calls as I need to to learn about them and to make them feel like they can trust me with their past.
Lensa: If you were to fast forward 15 years, where would you want college students to be with regard to their careers?
Dasha: I would want them to be in a space where they feel like they’re not wasting their time. I want them to be in a job that they actually enjoy doing and that gives them the growth that they need. And I definitely don’t want them to feel like they wasted five years and then they need to go on to the next job. And they’re feeling lost and a little bit anxious about it. So I think that’s what I definitely would love to see in the next 15 years.
Lensa: What inspired you to start The Give Hope Foundation?
Dasha: Two things inspired me: I came here from Russia when I was three, with my mom, and we were immigrants. I was never taught to kind of go in and utilize my resources. Even throughout junior high school, high school and college, I was kind of on my own. I didn’t really know that I could ask questions, that I had these resources and that I could talk to someone about it, that there was even a career coach. Right. My first degree was in childhood education. And I thought that I wanted to teach forever. I wanted to be a teacher.
Four years in, I realized that I wasn’t enjoying anything that I was doing. And so if I would have had the proper guidance to understand that earlier or to at least understand that I could explore and figure out maybe an internship here or there to see what that career path was really about, I wouldn’t have to go back and get another degree of a different nature and waste a lot of money and time doing so. The other thing was recruitment. I came across a lot of students over the last seven and a half years that were extremely lost. They didn’t have any clue in regards to resume editing, interviews, or how to really sell their experience or internship experience. So I felt like I really had to pay it forward and help as best I could.
Lensa: Where can people find you if they want to learn more?
Lensa: Dasha, thank you so much for being on Q&A!
Dasha: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
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