Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Ask the Experts

Parents and alumni play an important role in our students’ career development process.  To foster this support, our Office of Personal and Career Development has established a Linkedin group called Wake Forest Career Connectors. Over the past seven months, an impressive 2,600 parents and alumni have joined the group to provide students with career guidance and advice. Students can now easily query group members through private messaging and a public discussion board. Our office staff has also taken advantage of the public discussion feature to ask member’s career related questions.

Amy Willard, Assistant Director for Professional Development, sought advice using our Wake Forest Career Connectors’ open discussion board. Seeking information to support her work in professional development, she asked members, “If you were hiring a recent graduate, what top five professional skills do you want him/her to possess to be a strong candidate for your profession?”

Amy was excited to receive over two dozen detailed responses from members detailing their “top” workplace skills.  She notes that “even with the responding members’ varied occupations, common skill themes quickly emerged that will support my professional development programming strategy.”  Below are some common skills as noted by our respondents:

  • Proven communications skills were highlighted most often. Joseph Tranfo (Parent,  ’15) noted the heightened importance of “communication – written, oral, AND visual” in today’s work environment. Furthermore, he states that “in 2011 and beyond, students better be able to communicate digitally using more than just words.”
  • Sam Smith (Psychology and English, ’84) was one of the many alumni to emphasize the need for skills in critical thinking. He emphasizes that when a student is faced “with a brand new challenge and you can think your way through to a working solution, you’re going to get lots and lots of opportunities to shine.”
  • “The world of work is a world of people and therefore relationships,” states Patrick Flemming (Psychology, ’96). Several of the responders focused on our students’ need to understand the big picture when beginning their first internship or job assignments. Furthermore, Patrick shares that “students/graduates can distinguish themselves in a powerful way by demonstrating awareness and enduring interest in who people are, why they do what they do, and how they behave together.”
  • Like others, Sarah Shoaf (Physician’s Assistant, ’76) emphasized initiative and noted that students should “constantly seek ways to improve yourself and your performance, as well as improve the business around you.”  She advises students to “spend your first month absorbing what is around you, asking questions as to why things are done certain ways. Once you understand the business, then start making suggestions, but don’t be offended if your suggestions are not immediately acted upon.”

The Wake Forest network of alumni, parents, faculty and staff is committed to helping students successfully navigate the path from college to career.  We’re excited that the LinkedIn Career Connectors Group can provide these important connections for students to learn about the world of work.  If you are willing to provide friendly advice and encouragement to current Wake Forest students, please join the Wake Forest Career Connectors Group today.

Category: On the Job Tips