Saturday, October 31, 2009

3 References - Do your students have them?

One of the many challenges I encounter when working with our youth is their inability to provide a minimum of 3 references that are not family members or some unknown digital connection made through social media. Most adults do not have an issue with providing three references because of their life experience.

Working with students and even some adults while developing a student resumes, you can see the struggles as they learn to document their own accomplishments. Many of them discount what they do in their community, schools, churches, and extra curricular activities.

One thing I kept for my daughter throughout our travels was a binder that we titled, "Me book" which contained everything from certificates of accomplishment/achievement/appreciation that she received over the years. This binder played a role when she created her first student resume in middle school. The "Me book" continued to be a repository for points of contact and organizations, which allowed her to reflect about adults she could list as references during her job searches and volunteer activities.

This activity also ties into them setting up Google Alerts for their own names and searching for those they list as references. Some students want to list their high school teachers as references when they apply for jobs or volunteer activities because it is where they spend the majority of their high school life. They are also encouraged to contact everyone they want to list as a reference and ask their permission and to verify contact information.

So encourage and work with your students, your children, your neighbor's children to get involved and make the community connections needed. If someone asks you if they can list you as a reference, be honest. Some people do not want to be listed as a reference and other people do not mind at all, they just want to be aware if and when their name is being used. It can be challenging to hide the surprise when recieving a call about a particular student and to reference their work, character, or lack of when an organization calls to verify a listed reference.

If you had to provide 3 references for a career or volunteer position, could you?

If your students wanted to list you as a reference, how would you respond?
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