Why Curated Career Experiences are Invaluable

Meet Nate. He graduates high school with a lucrative scholarship guaranteeing practically free college at a state flagship university. He had the grades, the SAT scores, the extracurriculars to prove he was worthy of this award.

During his freshman year, Nate was performing well academically and doing the “experimenting” recommended by his college and the career center to figure out what major would fit best and lead to a fulfilling career. He took a variety of classes of interest and perused the seemingly overwhelming list of 200+ majors offered by his university.

With his love for people and service, he landed on Hospitality Management as the perfect major that would lead to a fulfilling career where he would spend his 90,000+ work hours after graduation.

First Problem

His first problem was the school he was attending for next to nothing does not offer his major. Back to the drawing board.

He already knew how to “do the college search” as he’d just done it only two years before. He hurridly repeats the process and applies as a transfer student to a reputable and fantastic university in a neighboring state. He’s in…..for the full cost of out-of-state tuition at a public university. Lucky for Nate, his family lives a very financially comfortable life, and paying for college will not be a problem. He profusely thanks his parents as he knows not all students would have this second chance option. They are happy to support his dreams and aren’t concerned about the money. No, really they aren’t. Nate’s mom is a friend of mine and I really know this to be true.

He arrives on campus with a fresh start and thrives in his dream major. He’s doing so well academically that he has time to devote to a part-time job in hospitality.

Problem number two.

Nate’s experience in hospitality is typical of many of these jobs. Lots of people, many of whom are quite demanding, and fast-paced…..which near the end of his college experience he is realizing is NOT a great fit for him. YIKES! What’s Nate to do? Suffer in an industry he’s paid a high price to prepare for or make a change to who knows what?

As I heard Nate’s story from his mom, my recently new friend, I felt for all of them. Mostly I regretted I’d not met his mom six or seven years earlier; his mom regrets that too.

Instead of waiting to do the career clarity work in college, I’d have encouraged Nate to do the same work while a high school student as part of his college counseling journey. The same resources are available to high school students as are to college students. It’s just a matter of when the work is accomplished.

And I’d have urged curated experiences. In some careers, these can be more challenging, but hospitality is a piece of cake – pun intended! Simply working at a restaurant would have evoked the same discomfort with the pace as it does now. Had he done the work to know himself better (preferred pace of action being a piece of this) and look for careers that align, perhaps he’d still have gone to college for free.

Curated experiences can include paid work, job shadows as short as just one day, internships, community services, networking interviews, and more.

All hope is not lost.

Nate is doing the work now after college graduation while living back at his parents house before he can launch. He is thinking outside the box of hospitality. Perhaps a slower-paced environment like senior living community that still needs hospitality management or another industry where the high touch of service is important. He will figure it out, but I’m confident he could have done so sooner and perhaps not paid full price for college.