Graduation not only closes a huge chapter of your life, leaving behind your educational career and moving into an environment where you can put your degree to work, but it is also the time of your life to define yourself in the professional world.
Landing a job in your field out of college can come hard, but with the right work, patience and helping yourself stand out makes all the difference in the world. According to Jack Kennedy, journalism and technical communications professor at CSU, the best advice is to brand yourself.
“The very first step anyone should seriously take a look at is branding themselves, as if you’re marketing yourself. What are your strengths you can bring to any career choice or a new job. This means everything from your resume, to your personal blog, social media presence and any other materials you can share with a potential employers should have your own personal style, matching your personality with a look across the board,” Kennedy explains.
The world has changed to one were employers would ask for a list from you providing some things you’ve done and accomplished to a world where they are interested in well-rounded college students. According to Kennedy employers are truly seeking people with great interpersonal skills developed from positions of leadership and individuals who have worked largely with a team for an ultimate goal.
“College life is very much about working for your GPA, your grades…but teamwork is highly valued indeed in business,” Kennedy said.
When someone enters the business world not only are employers seeking employees who are self-reliant but they also want people who work well with others to meet a deadline, complete a proposal and do a job as a team enabling the company to grow as a whole.
Outside of group projects in the academic setting it may be best to engage in activities such as clubs you find of interest, joining organizations in order to build a skill set allowing you to communicate with others in a business like setting.
On top of building how you work with a group it is also very important to make yourself comfortable and proficient with giving oral presentations.
“Any line of work you go into, even engineering, you will have to be able to present your ideas in a proposal, a openly communicate your ideas in a way to get your point across.” Kennedy said.
Today, social media holds such a presence in out world, it is important to know how to use them, but businesses still want standard skills.
According to Kennedy, “a number of organizations, and leaders of them love to have the familiarity that students bring to the table with social media but most businesses are still based on having standard skills such as having the ability to write clearly.”
Standing out comes with experience in your field and presenting yourself in a light in which you want to be precieved.
“Businesses are not impressed by a mere degree,” Kenndy explained. “College is like a high school degree today. It is expected and it won’t make you stand out.”
Rather, it is what you do with your degree and what types of experiences on top of your degree have made you qualified for the job at hand. For instance, a series of internships, work experience and going to grad school if if is specific in the field you hope to pursue.
However, Kennedy notes everyone is interning or getting a summer opportunity to connect with a company of interest. The common catch phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” is still very much applicable today.
It is important to create networks and to get to know people by connecting with them in a personable way soon after facilitating the original conversation with them.
Go the extra extra step. After submitting your application, call the company to follow up with them, write an email to extend your thanks or even send a hand-written thank you card.
“You need to find a way to connect personally,” Kennedy said.
Five Ways to Stand Out
- Brand yourself- have your own font for everything you have from your resume, to your cover letter. Create a style that is yours that says hey, “I’m sophisticated but outgoing,” or “I’m conservative but thoughtful,” or “I’m kinda crazy and I love to write.” Whatever it is let it be you and let it be known. It used to be cool 15 years ago to all have 12 point times new roman font but today that stands for: I’m generic and like everyone else.
- Act the part-if you want to be known as an intelligent, outgoing, do-gooder, be that girl…or boy every god darn day. If you are only that person on interview day there is no way the job will stay if you land it but if you are who you want to be everyday your actions become habits and you become your dream person
- People want your creativity to further the development of their organization. Share your ideas, branch out and always speak your mind even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole your ideas could blossom into something like the iPhone is today.
- Do the things youve been telling yourself you’d do-go to the german club meeting on Wednesday night to brush up on your skills, volunteer at the local animal house, or join a club you’ve long had a hidden passion for. Your voice matters and often times while your degree has academia written all over you your hobbies have intelligence and voice and reason written all over you!
- Tell your story-we all have a story and it is important but it’s also just a story. No longer use your story as an excuse for why you can’t obtain your dreams but rather a reason for fuel. Almost every interview starts with, “tell us a little about yourself,” and DO NOT answer: I don’t know where to start…because that means you haven’t thought about it and we all know you have because you’ve lived your story. Your story needs to be specific to the job, sharing times you knew you wanted to go into social work and help people, or wanted to build bridges in Chicago or whatever your calling is you have a story that lead you to where you are today.. SO TELL IT!
College Avenue reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for the Interviewing Guide issue of College Avenue on racks Mar. 12!