A blog filled with career advice, professional development best practices, and if all goes well, a little entertainment along the way
Welcome to Career Cash The Blog! These writings have been inspired by the conversations I've had on my show, Career Cash The Podcast. Both the blog and the podcast are here to help you earn a little "money" to answer the million-dollar question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
How it All Started
The idea for the show, and now the blog, originated from my time working in the Career Center at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. In my role, one of my undertakings was to engage the students across campus with the idea of driving more traffic through our office, in turn, increasing our ability to help more students.
One of our office's biggest challenges and one that is shared by university career centers across the country, is figuring out how to maximize student engagement, but, specifically, how to do so in a meaningful way. This meant that we didn't want our role on campus to solely be associated with cafeteria tabling sessions where students only took our informational flyers so they could guilt-free grab a couple of the fun-sized chocolate bars we had sprawled all over the table.
After all, both parties knew it was more about Reese's and Twix than it was about learning interview tricks. (While that was one heck of a turn of phrase, don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job to become a poet). But, for this reason, and a few others, during my time at Lynn, I was fairly anti-tabling.
The challenge to engage students in significant ways was primarily exacerbated by what career centers, in general, represent. For most 18, 19, and 20-year-olds, getting into your career is a bridge that can be crossed later. Our office, like all career centers, represented the "real world;" a phrase that I happen to hold a lot of disdain toward because I believe the world you're living in college is just as "real" as the world you'll live in after college. Of course, you will be at a different stage of life after graduation, with some new and different responsibilities, but that doesn't mean that your time in college was some sort of meaningless responsibility-less dreamland.
We believed we had a spoil of riches when it came to resources for our students. From top-of-the-line job boards to deep employer contact databases to an expansive network of alumni in just about every field you could imagine and much more. We were prepared to help any student who walked through our doors no matter what stage they were at in their professional journey. But just as you don't benefit from your vegetables if you don't eat them, our students wouldn't benefit from our resources if they didn't use them. But in order for them to use our resources, they had to know that they existed in the first place.
Now, I don't want this to come off as sounding like our office was a desolate wasteland with such little traffic from students that there were cobwebs on the door handles and tumbleweeds passing from desk to desk. That wasn't the case at all. It had just become apparent that to be most effective as an office, we could no longer only wait for students to come to us, we had to meet the students where they were.
This looked like visiting classes, stopping by events held by the different clubs and organizations, going to athletic events, or joining a table of students for lunch, all with no agenda other than showing sincere support and the desire to build authentic relationships.
I remember how much it meant to me when I saw a professor or mentor show up to my baseball games at Lynn. They weren't obligated to come, but they did anyway. And bless them for doing so because, for those who are unfamiliar, it's about 1,000,000 degrees at 2 PM in South Florida in March. It left such a strong impression on me seeing them simply show up that I knew, especially in my role in the office, I had to do the same.
Even before this more conscious community-based effort, we were meeting with, interacting with, and helping a significant number of students. To truly fulfill the demands of our services, our team realistically needed to double in size. Even so, for all of the students we were meeting with, we knew that many populations were still left untapped. If there were 3,500 students enrolled at Lynn, we wanted to meet with and help 3,500 students. While a goal like that is unrealistic, it still acted as a way to motivate us and drive innovation when it came to student engagement.
I can't say enough about the team we had. A small but mighty bunch, our six-person squad was made up of people who genuinely cared about the students. No further proof of this was needed after witnessing one of the countless times any member of our team, quite literally, jumped for joy when a student notified us about getting an interview invite or landing that dream job or internship they had been hoping to land for so long.
It was because of this unmatched care that my teammates and I shared for the students and knowledge of all of the incredible resources that we had to offer that drove my desire to find better ways to engage more students.
During my first summer working in the office, I spent a great deal of time brainstorming different strategies we could implement during the upcoming school year.
The summer, for our office, like just about all departments on a college and university campus, is a time to reset, refocus, and get locked in for the quickly approaching fall semester. It is very akin to an athlete's off-season training. We looked at the year that just passed, examined what we did well, took note of what we could improve upon, and looked for ways we would take our game to the next level.
As a Lynn alum now working at my alma mater, I felt that I was in the perfect position to relate to the students, whom I wasn't much older than, and tap into the alumni network, many of whom were my classmates or graduates I knew through mutual connections.
During my brainstorming sessions, I spent a lot of time on the phone. I would call up my friends, former classmates, more distant alumni, and other university career centers to hear their thoughts and ideas on ways to build stronger connections between our office and the student body.
The more people I talked to, the more I saw a recurring theme begin to reveal itself. The common thread in my brainstorming partners' suggestions was two-part: we had to keep things relatable and we had to keep things relevant.
It was this exact suggestion that gave birth to Career Cash the Podcast. I originally was toying with the idea of hosting a podcast where I would talk with CEOs and business owners in a variety of industries. I thought these would be really cool conversations and who doesn't love a good podcast?
But I began to think, while these conversations with CEOs and business owners would be fun, and producing a podcast is a relevant thing to do in today's digital age, talking to professionals who have been in their respective industries for 25-plus years would be a hard sell on the relatability scale to students who might not have even been a thought when these potential guests began their careers. I needed to pair relevance with relatability, so the idea of interviewing long-established professionals had to go.
With the relevance plus relatability equation in my mind, I shifted my focus to recent college graduates. What if they were the population that made up my guest list? I plugged this idea into the formula and everything checked out.
Throughout three seasons and counting, I have gotten to sit down with young professionals who are building their careers in just about every industry to talk about their big wins, big losses, and everything in between. Not being too far removed from being in college themselves and being in a number of different industries, I believed this would make the perfect combination of relevance and relatability.
My Hopes, Dreams and Aspirations for Career Cash
I have had so many people in my life who have helped me throughout my personal and professional journey and continue to do so today. Because of that, it is incredibly important to me to help others in the same way anytime the opportunity presents itself.
I hope that the podcast can provide some guidance and inspiration to students working toward building their careers. I hope the same goes for the blog. While the podcast plays host to first-hand accounts of my guests' personal and professional experiences, the blog will allow me to go more in-depth about many of the topics covered on the show. I will also use the blog to share lessons learned, best practices developed, and career advice accumulated from my time working in Lynn's career center and beyond.
So, whether you're tuning in on Wednesdays to hear the latest podcast episode, or refreshing your web browser to catch the newest blog release, I am looking forward to having you along for the ride! It's time to cash in on the lessons learned from those a few steps ahead of you!
To stay up to date on the latest from all things Career Cash, follow @CareerCashThePodcast on Instagram. #CashingOut