Former professor helps students take ‘Next Step’

Edward Nakfoor entered a journalism classroom at Oakland University in September 2015 not expecting to enjoy his new job all that much. But after a few class sessions, he began to love getting up in front of aspiring journalists and starting each afternoon class with the same question:

“So tell me, what’s going in the world today?”

His students’ answers, or sometimes lack thereof, gave Nakfoor a passion for molding minds and helping students figure out where they wanted to fit in to the world they were about to enter.

Life has since taken Nakfoor out of the teaching field, but his passion to help students enter the working world persists. Consequently, Nakfoor has taken his experience as a public relations practitioner, columnist, educator, tutor, branding consultant and publicist to help students prepare for job applications with his business Next Step.

“I would always tell students they need a fresh set of eyes [on their work],” Nakfoor said. “So I’m that fresh set of eyes. I was working on my own resume recently and had someone look at it. They pointed out some issues, and you know, since it’s my resume I thought everything was fine. It takes that fresh set of eyes, and that’s what I am.”

Next Step focuses on developing graduate school applications, resumes, cover letters, a personal brand and a job search strategy. Nakfoor meets with students in coffee shops or via FaceTime, whichever the student prefers. Nakfoor works alongside students via Google Docs and makes sure their application materials are concise and impactful. He charges $65 for an hour, $90 for an hour and a half and $120 for two hours.

Nakfoor has always looked at applying for a job as a job of its own. It’s a mindset, and one of Next Step’s purposes is to help students maintain that mindset as they search for internships or careers.

“When I started working out of my house in 2000, I would work like I was going to an office,” Nakfoor said. “I would get up, get something to eat, have a cup of instant coffee, put a suit and tie on, walk to my office, hang my jacket over my chair and then go make a pot of coffee. So I would tell a student to get out of the house and put themselves in that mindset.”

To help keep that mindset, Nakfoor helps students develop a personal brand and a plan to get a job they can be passionate about. One of his biggest pieces of advice to students is to remain confident in their abilities to do a job well.

“You’ve got to banish the word ‘just’ and stop saying, ‘Well I’m just a college student,'” Nakfoor said. “‘Just’ is the worst word, it’s the worst word. Don’t say ‘just’ and don’t apologize about yourself. There’s nothing to be sorry about, be confident.”

With confidence, top-notch application materials and the right mindset in tow, Next Step hopes to have the next generation ready for the work force, and Nakfoor looks forward to having students to teach once again.

“It’s really fun for me,” he said. “It’s great to hear when they do well on an assignment or get an internship. It’s very gratifying, there’s nothing like it.”