Teenagers are accustomed to curating their personal image on social media. They select what to share, who to tag and how to display their interests and activities in a snapshot, or a few hash tags. The next step for Generation Z, those born after 1995, is to start curating their career. Whether preparing to apply for a competitive university programme or starting an entrepreneurial venture, there is great value in starting to think about how to express one’s professional interests from an early age.
“Your extra-curricular activities during high school help you stand out from the crowd when applying for universities, especially top-ranked international ones,” says Duncan Parsons, Regional Manager for Crimson Education, a mentoring company that helps build high-schoolers’ candidacy to apply for universities in the States and United Kingdom. “Admissions boards are looking for well-rounded candidates with interesting personal stories – not just top marks.”
A report by brand management specialists, QWERTY found that nearly 70% of South Africans’ weekly activities are spent on social media channels. Growing up with the internet, Gen Zs have become accustomed to plugging hours into Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. They’re great at capturing their personal image online; which brands they associate with and which moments they share. Applying some of this time and skill to thinking about their careers can be hugely beneficial for when they finish school.
“Demonstrating a variety of skills and interests is a crucial part of an applicant’s success. Universities are increasingly interested in personal stories and motivations,” says Parsons. Crimson Education’s research indicates that about 30% of an application to an American university is based on activities outside of academic curricula; “Colleges look for and fund students who demonstrate that they’ll use the university’s resources to the fullest – they want to see initiative and the potential to become a leader in your field.”
Teachers, parents and school counsellors also play an important role in encouraging students to explore exciting career and study opportunities; “With the right guidance and support, students can start a small business or launch a social initiative before they even matriculate. Doing so will help them refine their interests and ultimately select the best fit programme at university, regardless of whether they study locally or abroad,” says Parsons.
A great university education, at an institution with leading research groups, lecturers and students from around the world can be a powerful starting point for future changemakers. According to Parsons, landing that opportunity is challenging, but not impossible, for driven South African students who apply their finely tuned social media curating skills to their careers.
Crimson Education launched in South Africa earlier this year, making the company operational in 17 cities around the world. Parsons and his team regularly host information evenings for parents and learners interested in studying overseas and have recently introduced a career exploration service. For more information, visit www.crimsoneducation.org or email email@example.com.