It is important to remind our students that they may need us to write reference letters in the future. After all, who better to write an eloquent reference letter in English to an American graduate school or business on Baker Street than their university English professor? What do they think that letter will say? "Jeong Bum did the bare minimum to pass my course." "Mycroft tried hard when he could be bothered to attend class." If students want me to write that they exceeded my expectations and were a pleasure to know and to teach, they had bloody well better earn it.
Teaching job interview skills is a great way to show the competitive aspect of our students' time in university. Have several students answer the same question one after another and ask the other students to choose who gave the best answer and why. Skill-based questions such as "How any languages can you speak?" and "What can you offer that other candidates cannot?" highlight one student's strength against their rivals' weaknesses. If you can highlight where a student needs to improve before he or she is a senior, that student has a chance to increase his/her skill set. If you wait until their last semester, it may be too late and they will have to work with what they have. Hopefully your students won't have to disguise the fact that they aren't as prepared to enter the workforce as they should be.
Consider teaching some of the skills that can benefit students in a job interview and during their career in your English classes. Teamwork, leadership, working with technology, time management, creativity, and presentation skills can all be taught in English-based courses through project work. This will be a greater challenge with lower-level students but not impossible if you keep things elementary. Your students may not understand why making a boring podcast episode is helping their English ability and in the long run it may not. However, many of the skills listed above do go into creating a podcast episode and students then have something tangible to show for it at the end.
In order to sell a product at a high price a salesperson must first build the product's value. Explain to your students why you drive them so hard and remind them of what's at stake. They may not be able to deduce it on their own. When they see that they are not only working for you and a grade but also for their personal development and their future career they should clamor to buy what we are selling. It's not a mystery, after all, that we are here to help our students succeed and proceed. Perhaps they will even become doctors one day.
Note: You can use this with your students as a sample five-paragraph essay.