Fresno State public relations instructor Betsy Hays has co-authored a book designed to help college students fully utilize different opportunities in college beyond their coursework.
“Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College” was written by Hays and former Fresno State student Tori Randolph Terhune, who graduated in 2009. Terhune was named 2009 Outstanding Public Relations graduate and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and journalism.
The book takes a look at how students can strengthen their knowledge base, which will essentially better prepare them for their future careers.
“There are all these opportunities that are available to you now, but they disappear after you graduate,” Hays said.
She uses the example of informational interviews in which students are able to approach employers and ask for advice or to shadow a person while they worked. For the most part, employers are happy to help aspiring young minds to develop as they learn the craft.
But when college life is over, Hays said those employers might view the former student in a different light.
“You’re now just a guy who wants a job, and people aren’t as willing to help you,” she said.
The authors wrote the book to feature two perspectives: the student who lived through college and the instructor who keeps in contact with students after they began their careers. By following the post-college lives of some students, Hays has experienced what she calls a “knowledge gap.”
“Students are not being taught this information, and they’re graduating and they are not having the careers that they want,” she said. “So we want to fix that.”
Hays said the issue is, in part, that access to the information is not readily available to students. There are options, but students do not know about them and will not conduct the necessary research.
“It’s there if you want to search for it, but if you don’t know you have a knowledge gap. Typically you won’t look to fill it,” she said.
Hays is attempting to make the book a necessary part of learning about college before students begin at Fresno State. She wants the book to be used in University 1, a college introductory course, as well as career centers.
She also wants to reach out to high schools that offer college preparatory classes, as well as making the book available in libraries — from college to high school levels.
Hays and Terhune started writing the book in May and finished in September. It is the first book they have written.
They had a good plan before writing the book, including deadlines and checkups every two weeks, so they ran into very few slowdowns.
“I also found out that writing a book with someone is fabulous, because then you have someone that is holding you accountable,” Hays said. “So, say you’re supposed to have a chapter done on Friday. You know they’re going to have their chapter on Friday, so you better have the chapter done as well. That really helped us.”
Hays said that she has received a lot of positive feedback for the book, mostly from students who believe the lessons will provide valuable insight.
“That kind of helped, you know, with the motivation,” she said.
The authors wrote four chapters each, and shared the writing among three other chapters. However, each chapter brings a mix of both perspectives.
For example, Hays wrote Chapter 2, which focuses on how students can sell themselves, but Tori was still able to include a small section using her own experience as background.
The book will include notes, featuring some information or personal story, which Hays said helps to round out the lessons introduced in every chapter.
“I love the content of Chapter 5, about mastering every conversation, because I think that is something that all of us can do better,” Hays said. “And Chapter 5 talks about having a goal for every conversation and being very strategic about what we say and also how we answer just basic questions.”
Hays said that even with typical greetings, people tend to make bad impressions by responding to, “How are you?” with “tired,” “stressed” or “busy,” and repeating that answer often.
“Instead of saying ‘fine,’ ‘busy,’ ‘OK,’ ‘tired,’ you actually give an answer that helps you advance your goals, whatever those goals are,” she said.
Hays and Terhune are already planning a second book, which will cover life after college.
“Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College” will be available March 21 in print and as an eBook. On April 11, there will be a book signing at the Bulldog Bookstore from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It can be pre-ordered at Amazon or Barns & Noble for $30.