I want to leave you with one final excerpt from Patrick Comb’s book, “Major in Success,” as seen below. We have to come to terms with our failures, and break through them, instead of using them as an excuse to quit. The one thing I have learned through this experience is that during college you will make mistakes and change your mind a million times. It is a time to grow and find out who you really are, and who you will be after graduation. We are human, and no one has all the answers. Make the most out of your college experiences, while also taking your classes and job preparation seriously. Your success is up to you, and with the right determination and hard work you will get there.
Now that you have conducted informational interviews, and researched the industry/company you wish to work for, you are ready to start interviewing. This is where your network and your school’s career center will come in handy. Use your network to find open positions in your dream company, and then take advantage of the workshops offered by your school, such as mock interviews and resume building, to ensure you are prepared for the big day.
Once you have conquered those skills, focus on what you need for a particular interview. Customize your cover letter to give at least two specific examples of how your personal skills and abilities match the job description’s needs. Next, do not forget your show and tell items that can help assign more weight to these skills and abilities. Research the company ahead of time and prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Prepare a list of references, and make sure those listed are aware that they may be receiving a call from a potential employer.Finally, prepare your outfit ahead of time so you are dressed appropriately for that company’s culture.
See below for basic tips on the best way to dress:
In my last post, Informational interviewing, I discussed the process of interviewing professionals in the field you intend to pursue. This is a great way to learn more about the field and to decide if it is right for you. However, there are other ways to establish your industry expertise such as:
Google everything you can about the subject and print out important articles. (Who are the top players, what are they looking for in employees)
Talk with professionals in that industry via social media, especially LinkedIn.
Get involved in online forums about the subject matter.
Read books written by experts in that field.
Attend conferences, seminars, or workshops on the subject matter.
Take a company tour.
Subscribe to industry related magazines, and trade journals.
Talk with your professors.
Once you do the research, make sure you SHOW IT OFF. These visual cues will become your show and tell items, as suggested by Patrick Combs in his book, “Major in Success.” Employers are likely to assign more weight to a candidate that can demonstrate their interests and skills, rather than just talk about them. Bring any articles you gathered, anything you helped create for an organization, important handouts from class, or any other applicable items. For example, a teacher may bring a lesson plan, or a computer programmer may bring a sample program.
Future employers will appreciate your efforts, and you will feel more comfortable in your interviews because you are prepared to talk “the company lingo.” If you are confident in your knowledge, employers will notice and the impression you leave may pilot the chances you were hoping for.
Once you enroll in the right classes, and sign up for activities outside the classroom, such as internships, networking events, sports, or organizations, you need to start thinking about life after college. Make a list of the professions you may be interested in, and find out as much information about them as possible. Informational interviewing is a great way to discover the right career for you. It provides you with answers and connections that could be essential to your future successes. The best way to get these answers is to call up a professional in that field and ask good questions such as:
How did you get into the field?
What do you do on a daily basis?
What skills are most important for a position in this field?
How is the economy affecting this industry?
What would you do differently if you had it to do over?
What were the keys to your career advancement?
Do not ask for a job, but make sure to follow up with your new connection and thank them for taking the time to talk with you. This new relationship may pay off later down the road when you formally apply for a job within the company after graduation.
My Social Media Innovation class recently hosted a guest speaker named Cheldin Barlatt Rumer. She spoke on the importance of building your network while in college, and I have to agree. These days getting a job is not only based on what you know, but WHO YOU KNOW. Research over the past few years has proved this in declaring that 60-80 percent of jobs are now found through personal relationships. There are so many individuals, in many channels, that you can reach out to during college in order to make those first essential connections. Contact your school’s alumni and professors, reach out to your parents extended network, USE SOCIAL MEDIA like Twitter and LinkedIn, get an internship so you can talk with co-workers and management, or just make friends with your classmates. Then, once you find the right people to connect with, there are a few things you should do:
START EARLY, I am sure you know how hard it is to establish a long lasting relationship and your network is no different. Networking is work and it requires your time and great effort.
PREPARATION is key. Know what to talk about with those in your network and how best to contact them.
STAY IN TOUCH. Keep your network up to date. Tell them what you are doing, and what you have accomplished.
STAY SOCIAL. If you are just following someone on twitter, you are not doing enough. Retweet them and reach out to them in order to get noticed.
ASK QUESTIONS. The more you ask, the more you will know about the industry you wish to work in and how to succeed in that industry.
BE PROFESSONIAL. You should always have your business card handy, and you should watch what you say on your personal social media accounts.
As I stated in my post, College GPA, employers are going to look at your experiences alongside of your grades. An internship is worth its weight in gold, and when this type of experience is highlighted on your resume employers notice. Take advantage of internship opportunities early and often, and network with your temporary co-workers. Talk with management to learn how they made it, and apply these lessons once you graduate. Even though the job may not be what you want, learn all that you can and demonstrate your leadership skills and dedication. These internships could turn into future job offers, or at the very least could provide good references to use on your resume. You will be gaining valuable experience, while also having hands on training that will help determine if an industry is right for you.
For more information on internships see the infographic below.
If you take a look at my last post, College GPA, I advocated a well rounded education for college students that included time outside of the classroom. However, class and education are what we pay for, and there are some classes every student should take to get the most from their education. Patrick Combs gives a great list in his book, “Major in Success.”
Business writing course: An organization will benefit from your ability to write an intelligent paper that is also short, simple, and direct. Efficient communication is necessary in the corporate world.
Public relations course: In this type of class you will learn how to speak to the public and be persuasive in your approach. An employer will be impressed with your communication and problem solving skills.
Speech/ business presentation course: The hardest thing you will be forced to do in college is presentations. Public speaking is a hard skill to develop, and if you are able to carry yourself well in front of your peers and radiant confidence, you will stand out to future employers.
Human relations course: In this course you will develop your people skills. It is inevitably that you will be working with a team of co-workers at your job, and it is important to learn how to interact with them and how to appropriately deal with conflicts that may arise. You will improve you teamwork and listening skills that are priceless to employers.
Marketing course: Every organization markets their product or service, and therefore it is a good idea to have background knowledge of this business segment in order to help out the team.
“Never let schooling get in the way of your education.” – Mark Twain
Another lesson I took to heart when reading Patrick Combs’ book, “ Major in Success,” is do not stress over the college GPA because most employers do not even look at it. This was truly a hard lesson to learn, and one that I am still getting used to. It is embedded into our brains to carry a high GPA in high school in the hopes of getting into our dream college. Advisors make sure you are aware of how much your acceptance into college is riding on your GPA. However, you do not need good grades in order to be successful. There are many people who have proven this theory correct. Even though you may not succeed in a classroom atmosphere, you do have a lot to offer a future employer.
Now of course there are exceptions to every rule, and if you are thinking about graduate school, or have some type of grade requirement with your financial aid, this post is not for you. This post is for the college student who is looking for a job right out of school. These students need to focus on a well rounded education, including internships, work experience, or co-op education, all of which make it difficult to strive for straight As. Before you find yourself pressed for time and stress out about your grades, step back and look at how you are spending your time. If you are doing other things that will be valuable, that help balance your life and make you happy, you will get the interview after graduation.
I would never advocate being lazy when it comes to class because grades do reflect what type of person you are, but I would advocate showing who you are in other settings as well. For example, being the head of a student organization can show leadership abilities. Set goals for yourself and work hard to be your best, but do not put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to your GPA.