Personal branding classes help students build soft skills

Daily Briefing

Personal branding classes help students build soft skills

As colleges and schools rush to ensure their graduates are career-ready, some are launching personal branding classes to teach students the professional skills they’ll need to land their dream jobs, reports Elissa Nadworny for NPR.

At Skidmore College, Professor Paul Calhoun teaches “Presenting the Brand Called Me.” He began offering the course ten years ago after noticing that his business students struggled with confidence and public speaking. “Students just plain don’t like to talk about themselves,” says Calhoun. “Some students have never had to.”

With the help of the theater department, Calhoun formed a curriculum involving cover letter best practices and interview prep mixed with dance, improv, and role-play. Each of these components helps students achieve one of the central goals of the course: to craft a personal story to tell during interviews.

“People don’t remember when you tell them you’re good at something,” Calhoun explains. “They remember when you tell them a story that proves you’re good at something.”

Learn more: The silly interview mistakes your grads keep making

“I took this course my senior year at Skidmore and my mock interview ended up landing me my first job,” writes Nadworny. She adds that the course is especially helpful for low-income students, who may not have had guidance counselors or parents who expose them to the skills necessary for landing a job or internship.

Some high schools are also beginning to offer career prep courses. For example, a handful of schools across Washington, D.C. have launched a course titled “Tenacity” that teaches students how to build a resume, dress for an interview, and send professional emails.

One Tenacity student tells Nadworny that among all the skills she’s learned in the program, the most important has been confidence. She says she now looks forward to interviews and plans to help her peers write and edit their own resumes (Nadworny, NPR, 7/23). 

90% of students say they have great interview skills. Their employers beg to differ.

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