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Using the Highlands Program with College Grads
By Anne Gottlieb Angerman, MSW
Have you been seeing more college grads recently, as I have? How can we use the Battery and feedback to assist these people? Many of these young adults are scared, confused, and clueless. Many have never worked a day in their lives. How can we, as Highlands affiliates, help?
I see a number of young adults who take the Battery after graduation to get clarity of vision for themselves. As we know, some of these graduates are very certain they want to go to law school, or they are ready to go into the engineering fields. About 35% of new graduates have this clarity of vision but the bulk of them do not. There is no lack of graduates who can use our services! Partially this is because there is great emphasis on getting a bachelor's degree - any kind -without specific focus, and there is much parental pressure to go to college.
Working with a number of graduates, I have found that it is helpful to add another assessment to the Highlands Battery. This can be the Strong Interest Inventory, MBTI or the Interest or Values Surveys of the Highlands student website.
When I first meet with a new graduate, I also force her to do some visioning - where do you see yourself in 2 years? Her answer is a good indication of how much planning she has done or how certain she is about her future.
When I ask this question, I get responses such as: I'm clueless. I'm lost. I want to have a business up and running in 5 years. It's helpful in these discussions to present and discuss the Highlands vision wheel.
I also find it's helpful to make the graduate adopt a time-table: "First, you will take the Highlands Battery online. Next, we will discuss your results together, and then we will use another session to increase your insights, and to make plans for job hunting or further education.'' Emphasize that the Highlands Battery is a tool - it will not provide all the answers, but it will provide information and guidance.
The Highlands results point to certain areas that are of special importance to the graduate's future. I find the area of personal work styles most important: Am I dealing with an Introvert or Extrovert, a Specialist or a Generalist? Knowing the preference can be very helpful: For example, most specialists are not going to like to work for a large company. Knowing that the client has a preference for introversion can give us many clues about her job searching skills. She will be more challenged by the process of networking, and by the need to contact possible referrals. Time frame orientation is another area that offers information about the client's approach to the job hunt. A client with short time-frame orientation can be very impatient with the job search and apt to take the first job offer.
Looking at the driving abilities gives us many clues to jobs and industries to pursue. For example, anyone who is high in spatial relations-visualization would be a good candidate for the STEM careers (Science, Technology Engineering and Math). This is a new and sprouting area. A good website to study in the STEM fields is www.careercornerstone.org.
If your client has strong artistic abilities you can suggest a career in the graphic arts, interior or industrial design, or photography. At the same time, it's important that you stay informed about jobs and industries that show substantial growth. One website to look at is www.online.onetcenter.org .
It's also important to check with your local chamber of commerce, community college, or the local office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many of you, discussing the job hunt, or moving to the next step, may be a new challenge. I find that new graduates need more than one feedback session to enable you to probe more deeply into their skills and values. They also need some structured guidance to the interview process and shadowing. For affiliates that do coaching, adding additional sessions to the feedback can be beneficial.
This is a very tough year for new college graduates. The Battery is a great tool and catalyst for young adults. The more insight they have into themselves and their strengths, the more they will be helped in narrowing the job hunt, or in getting new ideas about returning to school or in planning the future.
Anne Gottlieb Angerman, MSW is a Highlands affiliate in Denver who works frequently with emerging adults to help them find direction. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.icareermatters. She also works with adults and with companies to help people find the right fit in the world of work.