Fall Back, Pay It Forward, Time for Giving Thanks

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Pumpkin patches, football games and the smell of a distant fireplace really sets the stage.  The air is crisp with anticipation of cooler temperatures, and the summer allergies are gradually decreasing. It is that time of year when the leaves are turning bright red, yellow and orange, while hanging on the tree just a little while longer to enjoy the transformation from summer to fall.

Career fairs, midterm exams and on campus interviews begin to fade as we begin to prepare for the next phase in the career search process. How can we utilize this time of year to help our students?  What are the most important things to consider?  Where do we begin?


Rather than re-inventing the process, I recommend that we encourage our students to take a step back and evaluate what is working and what needs to change. Why do we keep doing the same things and expect different results?  Ask the student a couple simple questions and consider how turning over a new leaf can be just what the doctor ordered.


Here are a few questions that are important to ask, and might get the conversation started.

What are you doing to find a summer internship? How are you keeping track of the positions that you apply for, the employers that you follow up with, and the career links and passwords that you need?

Build a list of job titles that sound interesting, employers that meet your requirements, and openings that you want to apply for. Conduct your research to find people or companies that are doing what you want to do.  Reach out to see if there is a summer internship available.  Initiate contact.  Submit appropriate documents.  Follow up.  Then WASH, RINSE and REPEAT.

The bottom line is the semester only has a few weeks left before the students will be busy with projects, presentations and final exams. What can we do now to help promote action and encourage follow up?  Not every student will have a light bulb moment where they realize how hard work, determination and planning = opportunity.  It is not our responsibility to place our students in positions, but to provide resources, encouragement, and support that will fan the flame and encourage everyone to start the journey of the job search process.

Each person will need to determine what is working and what needs to change. Then, start it all over again.  As career professionals, we must provide the fishing poles with instructions on how to fish, rather than providing the big feast. Learn to pay it forward through our actions, our advice and our daily commitment to our students, alumni, faculty and staff. Each student will play a role in their own destiny.  It is up to each individual to determine if they want to be the leading man or leading lady in his/her own life story.

As the students come in for individual appointments or walk-in assistance, we realize there is much work to be done. How do we keep our students informed and engaged in career research strategies when each person is in a different place in the planning phases?

Some students will self-select and actually reach out for assistance, while others will wait until the last moment and desperately try to do it all. As professionals that are task with finding the silver lining, we have a responsibility to provide encouragement, embrace procrastinators, and magically turn a frown upside down.  Motivation comes in many different forms.  How we communicate, engage and inspire others could be the difference between a mediocre internship they had one summer, and the first day of the rest of their career.  Let it begin with you.


Take a moment to appreciate others through your thoughts, your words, and your actions.  Thanksgiving means something different to every person. For me, it is:

  • A time for giving thanks to those that have gone before me and paved the way
  • An opportunity to say thank you to those that serve and protect our country making it the land of the free because of the brave
  • A chance to reflect on the past (what we have accomplished), focus on the present (what we experience on a daily basis), and apply this knowledge to plan for our future

Take a moment to reflect. What are you thankful for?

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Boles, Assistant Director

University of Oklahoma Career Services


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