Making college count has a lot to do with getting a job upon graduation, but many full-time students don’t work while in school. A common complaint among job hunters relates to work experience. How are you supposed to get a job that requires work experience when you haven’t worked in that field before? It’s the old chicken and the egg problem: which came first, the job or the work experience? How do you get one without the other?
This is more than a philosophical riddle. For many graduating seniors, it’s a big deal; lack of work experience is often the one big hole in otherwise strong backgrounds. Walk in the interviewer’s shoes for a minute – wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who has at least some business experience, some kind of track record of responsibility and getting things done?
One option that most students never even consider is starting a business. That’s right, why not open your own on-campus small company and learn about business from the pilot’s seat? Entrepreneurship is one of the most attractive and useful qualities an employer could ever find in a new hire. Even if your business never becomes a huge success, simply making the effort will provide you tremendous experience. And that initiative says some very positive things about your character.
What’s the right business: obviously there are some limitations – don’t pick one that requires more time or money than you can contribute, and don’t pick one in which you have no interest or aptitude, and don’t try to compete against a more established company unless you can truly offer something different and better. That said, think about your skills. Are you an ace bike repairer, a computer whiz, or a skilled seamstress? Can you paint or landscape? Could you run a tutoring service? How about an aerobics program or personal training? What special talents do you have that other people value?
Remember that any responsible job experience is better than none at all. At worst your story about the business you started and operated will stand out to interviewers as an example of motivation and entrepreneurship. At best…you’re the next Bill Gates.