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Tips for Supporting Students

Each of the students you work with may be at different points in their career readiness journey. Some students may come in with polished, finished copies of their materials. Other students may be writing their materials for the very first time. Regardless of where your students are in the process, here are some general tips for supporting them as they build career-readiness skills…

Provide Supportive Accountability

Supportive accountability is a concept that involves holding one accountable for achieving goals in a way that is supportive and constructive. When working with students, use supportive accountability to help them achieve their resume-writing goals by providing regular feedback (both positive and constructive), listening to their perspective when it differs from yours, regularly checking in on progress, and cheering them on as they work on their goals.

Mentor: Hey! I wanted to check in with you to see how resume writing is going. I know it can be a stressful process. How are you doing?

Mentee: Thanks for checking in. It’s a little hard, to be honest. I started a draft but don’t feel like I’ve gotten very far yet.

Mentor: I’m proud of you for taking the initiative to start a draft- great job! Would you be able to send me a copy by Friday so I can take a look?

Mentee: Yeah, I can definitely do that. It helps to a deadline for these sorts of things. I appreciate the support.

Give Positive and Constructive Feedback

Consider “sandwiching” your feedback when working with students. Start by providing feedback on your student’s strengths, and identify the things that your students are doing well. Next, identify areas of growth and suggest some ways they can make changes and build their skills further. Finally, end the conversation by discussing another strength. By delivering feedback in this way, you can boost the confidence of your students while also empowering them to work on their areas of growth.

Mentee: Hi! I sent you the draft of my cover letter. I’d appreciate any feedback you have for me. There are some parts that could probably be revised.

Mentor: Thanks! I just took a look. First off, I loved the way you formatted it. It looks very sleek and professional. Way to go!

Mentor: I’d encourage you to choose some stronger action verbs if you can. For example, instead of “worked on”, try “managed” or “coordinated”

Mentor: You’ve got a great draft here, and I was especially impressed by your “skills” section – it was really well written. Let me know if you have any questions!

Mentee: Thank you for the feedback! It’s super helpful. I will plan to make some edits based on your feedback, and send a second draft to you next week.

When in Doubt, Send a Resource Out

There may be times when a student asks you a question that you don’t have an answer to. If this happens, don’t panic! It’s okay to not have an immediate answer to everything. When this occurs, it might be helpful to look up some relevant online resources that you can direct your students to, or discuss ways your student may be able to access additional help (e.g. a career center at school). There are also some resources listed at the end of this course that may be helpful!

Note: If you’re still unsure of what to say or do, and don’t feel comfortable sending out a resource, talk with your supervisor for additional support!

All Experiences Are Welcome

While some students may have an extensive work history or previous internships, others may not have had the same opportunities available to them. If a student does not have traditionally “professional” experiences, talk with them about other life experiences they’ve had that have taught them important lessons and helped them develop skills. Oftentimes, these insights can uncover transferrable skills that the student can use to develop their resume and cover letter, and may provide good talking points for job interviews as well!

Example conversation of a mentor showing how the mentee may have a “not traditionally professional” experience and how to apply it in a cover letter/resume.