After graduating from Evangel University and looking back at my time there, I came up with a few things that I wish had known from the beginning when it comes to future planning purposes. Every student should be learning how to sell. Now if you are not interested in business don’t stop reading yet.
Each student should be learning how to sell themselves to a potential employer. This requires 5 skills and actions that every student should be learning/taking throughout their college years, some skills and actions that I had worked on sooner.
- Be confident in who you are.
Let’s be honest as a freshman, you are nervous, lost, and completely confused on how this whole college thing works. By the time you are a senior you can feel one of three ways (or go through a cycle of the three). Indifferent, Terrified or Ready-To-Roll. I myself was classified as RTR until I realized that meant “adulting”. Whether you are indifferent, RTR or terrified no one wants to hire someone who has no confidence in themselves. An employer is not looking for an employee that needs to be told what to do and when to do it everyday. Learn to trust your instincts and if you have an idea, speak up! Have confidence and take initiative. Throughout college create a personal code of ethics and learn your strengths and your weaknesses and be able to talk about them, in depth, with a potential employer.
- Start getting involved in on campus AND off campus activities.
When I say get involved, I mean find something you are passionate about and dive head first into it! One great organization is Enactus! <–( that’s a hyper link so click if you wanna learn more. =D) Find a business or nonprofit that relates to your field and start volunteering for them. You gain experience and field specific knowledge through volunteer work. Plus, it is like bonus points on a resume. The most important thing that you can do is nail down an internship as soon as you know what field of work you want to go into. The only way you will ever learn how to have a “big girl/boy job”, is if you get real world experience. Getting an internship will provide you with the experience that you need to go out after graduation with you head held high. Sometimes it may even lead to immediate employment.
- Never stop learning and be flexible.
Even if you do not like a class (for me it was any finance class I ever took) work your hardest at it. Do your best to retain the knowledge that you are provided because in 20 years you never know where life is going to take you. After sitting through many Alumni panels I learned very few things but this one thing has stuck with me, there is a huge possibility that you may not end up working in the field you majored in. Be flexible when searching for a job post graduation. Don’t be scared to start in an assistant position in a small company. Each job offer will have its own individual benefits. There is no such thing as the perfect job, you make the perfect job. This leads me to my next point.
- Choose something you are passionate about!
I changed my major 6 times before all was said and done. I went from the education department to the music department then finally landed in the business department, and I LOVED every minute of it (unlike my advisors). I was finding out what I was passionate about. At first I thought I wanted to be a teacher and then I was sure that I wanted to be a musician and sing my way to fame. I realized that even though I was passionate about those things, they were more of just hobbies and not something I wanted to start a career in. Find something that you are passionate about and something that you want to have a career in and it will help you make the perfect job for yourself. A lot of factors go into finding the “perfect” job and that will be written about at another time.
- Do not give up on the “full-time” search and never stop selling!
Now this is for my graduates, can I get a what-what! Seriously, job searching is one of the most tedious things that can be done. You fill out an application, you interview, you don’t hear back, you get rejected, and the cycle starts over. Not everyone gets hired right away and the process can be never ending. It can throw you into a depression. No matter how long it takes don’t start doubting yourself. There are probably thousands of other students that are looking for a job in your field at the exact same time you are and your time will come. Never stop selling yourself and if you have some experience and your field allows it, do some freelancing. one rainy day I was minding my own business, watching a hockey game at a local bar when out of the blue a gentleman sitting next to me started talking to me about his business. As the conversation went on I told him what I did for a living. (Take note: I sold myself and my abilities) The conversation ended with him asking me if I would like to do some freelance work for his company. If I had been down in the dumps, unwilling to talk to him and showed no passion for what I do he most likely would not have asked if I wanted to work for him. There are opportunities everywhere and the possibilities are endless all you have to do is act.