Tag Archive for work experience

Even the Worst Job Can Help With Success After College

What’s the worst possible job? Waiting tables in a smoky dive? Sweeping floors in a loud, dirty factory? Gutting hogs in a slaughterhouse? There are plenty of candidates for this dubious distinction.

Sad but true, summer jobs are notoriously rotten. Unless you’ve had the foresight and good fortune to line up a good paying summer job in your chosen field, you may be dreading the approaching summer job grind. But for many students, a summer job is a financial necessity, even if the job itself is less than perfect.

Like everything else in life, a summer job is what you make of it. You can get much more than a paycheck out of any job, even on the assembly line. Every job provides opportunities to exhibit how driven you are (Effort), how well you along with the customers and co-workers (Group Skills), and how you can solve problems with the initiative and innovative ideas (Entrepreneurship). These three Winning Characteristics are important attributes that future employers will seek and reward. Read more

Life is a Sport

From intramural athletics to extracurricular activities to group case study classes and in-class team projects, it seems that everywhere you turn, you’re asked to interact with other students. The truth is, more than ever, life is a team sport. Whether it be in college or the world of work, teamwork is current trend. Given this, recruiters today are looking for candidates with Group Skills for their organizations. It’s one of the Winning Characteristics upon which interviewers make hiring decisions, so you’ll want to be able to prove to them that you are strong in this area.

Extracurriculars are an excellent way to develop and sharpen your Group Skills. They almost always involve teams of students working together over a number of months to complete large, complex projects. The key here is that if you’re going to develop and be able to demonstrate that you have Group Skills, you’ll need to go a step beyond just joining the organization. You’re going to have to actually get involved after you do.
Fortunately, if you pick an activity that you’re genuinely interested in, from theater to student government, you’ll enjoy the experience rather than considering it work. You’ll learn from the interaction with the more experienced members who will be managing the projects. And, if you do a good job, you’ll earn the respect of others in the group, giving yourself the opportunity to take a leadership role in the organization. Leadership is another of the Winning Characteristics.

So, get involved and get a head start toward getting the job you want.

A 4.0 Just Isn’t Enough

Wouldn’t life be great if you could just get a 4.0? You’d graduate with honors and find a long line of recruiters waiting to hire you for your dream job at a dream salary. A 4.0 is a ticket to Easy Street.

Or is it? Anyone who thinks that a 4.0 is enough to get a great job is in for a rude awakening in the interview process. Yes, academic achievement says a lot about intelligence, logic, effort, and organizational skills, all of which are attractive qualities. But recruiters are looking for much more. The best candidates for almost any job display broad range of “Winning Characteristics” including those above and Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Group Skills, and Communication skills. Candidates who have used their college years to build this critical skill set, in addition to getting good grades, have a significant advantage in the job market.

Even in more technical fields such as engineering, accounting, and architecture, employers look for well-rounded employees who can work well with clients and co-workers, take charge of complex projects and produce results. Let’s face it, you won’t see a job ad like this: “looking for a candidate who will sit quietly at a desk, take notes, and complete reading and written assignments, study alone, and correctly answer written questions every six weeks.”

Don’t miss the point here. Good grades are important in the job market. A consistent C student will have difficulty getting interviews while a 3.3 student with a 3.6 in his or her major will get quite a few. But once an interview starts, attention will quickly turn to extracurricular involvement, leadership, and work experiences. A 4.0 is a tremendous achievement, but slightly lower grades coupled with internship experience, a solid list of extracurricular activities and good communication skills will probably be more attractive to a manager with an important job opening.

So work hard to get good grades. But also put effort toward other activities and work experience to make the most of your college experience.

Jam Your Way to Jobs After College


Here’s an unconventional way to improve your prospects in the job market: start a band. Maybe your parents think it’s just a bunch of terrible noise, but forming Tofu Deluxe or Crooked Smile Dentist can be a great way for you to demonstrate your value to potential employers.

You don’t have to be the next Lady Gaga to make this work for you. The idea here is to make the most of the non-music aspects of forming and managing your own band. Putting together even a third-rate band takes a great deal of Effort, Organization, and Entrepreneurship. These are all “Winning Characteristics” employers will appreciate, even if they prefer Beck over Green Day. Read more

Give Yourself $100,000


Some students get all the breaks. They get the great summer jobs and the best internships, the best experience to get their careers started. How can you possibly compete with these lucky stiffs?


First of all, most “lucky” people have a lot more going for them than good fortune, but that’s another story for another day.


Regarding your background, a lack of concrete experience is definitely a limiting factor in many job searches. This is especially true if the firm you want to work for is too small or too busy to give you extensive training. So what can you do to demonstrate the experience you need to compete for these positions?


One seldom-exploited option is to assign yourself the kind of project that the “lucky” students gain through internships and summer jobs. For instance, even though you don’t have a summer job at an architectural firm, you can still design a building during summer break. Your sketches or blueprints are no less indicative of your skills just because you dreamed up the whole idea. If your aspirations are in the field of nutrition, write the definitive tofu cookbook. Or create a new ad campaign for an existing or fictional product. If you want to be a broker someday, use an on-line trading service to manage an imaginary $100,000 portfolio.


Sure you worked for free, and worked for yourself, but you still wound up with architectural drawings, a cookbook, an ad campaign, or investment results to show potential interviewers. Beyond your experience, you demonstrate a high level of effort, one of the Winning Characteristics all employers value. Taking the initiative to design and test a new product is a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers. What you lack on your resume, you may be able to overcome through effort an enthusiasm.


Worked hard to achieve college success, but still can’t find your dream internship that allows you to gain the experience you want or need to enter the job market? Then give yourself the assignment you want and get started!

Extra Work for the Introverted

There’s nothing wrong with being quiet or shy. In fact, the world might be a better place if a few more people fit into that category. Unfortunately our society, including job recruiters, often rewards the more extroverted, aggressive types, making the assumption that quiet equals less capable.

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College Success: Experience Beyond the Internship

Making College Count author Patrick O’Brien shares advice about how to achieve college success both inside and outside the classroom.

College Success – Get Relevant Work Experience

You’re working on college success but you need an internship to be in a position to get a job. Be creative and you can put yourself ahead of your classmates.

Be Your Own Boss

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.

Portfolios Aren’t Just for Art Majors

When I think of a portfolio, I think of those black booklets that artists carry around with copies of their work in it. But portfolios are not just for art majors anymore. Read more