Don’t let your books get in the way of learning.

Books, Be a pro, Be professional, reading, learning

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Ever wonder how to stand out from the crowd after graduation? It’s not the A’s that get you the job or the exam that gets you the experience you need. Studying all night and day to get that perfect score won’t guarantee the better income, either. Consider brushing up on the following before graduation.

SKILLS

Employers look for more than just a bookworm, and that’s a fact! According to Graduate Outlook 2013, the number one skill that employers look for in recent graduates is interpersonal communication skills. What does this mean? PUT YOUR BOOK DOWN AND LIVE A LITTLE! Rated on a scale of 10, academic records missed the ‘Top 3’ spot by a single mark, and since 2013, has decreased in importance or completely fell out of the Top 10 lists

“It’s the C and B students that run the world,” said Kevin Cooper, former director of communication for the Houston Super Bowl 2017 in a PRSSA meeting at the University of Houston. The more I gained hands-on experience, the more I realized that most successful people aren’t book worms at all. Kevin’s quote proved to be ever so right!

See how students’ perspectives differ from employers’ expectations.

A more recent article by Forbes lists the Top 10 sought-after skills by large companies such as: Chevron, IBM, and more! Ranked number one was the ability to work in a team environment, and academic records didn’t make it to the list at all! The other top 4 skills that employers look for in recent graduates are 2) ability to problem-solve 3) Ability to communicate verbally and 4) the ability to obtain and process information— most people obtain and process information more effectively through hands-on work… which brings me to my next point!

Check out Forbes’ complete Top 10 list here!

Internships

Soon after settling in at the beginning of the semester, my biggest mistake was not looking into internship programs. It’s not just about a simple application. Think about the following before deciding to procrastinate:

  • Find your internship resources.
    • school portals, reputable websites, your personal contacts, etc.
  • Identify internship deadlines and timelines.
    • Some internships only last 6 weeks, while others require a 6-month contract, and A LOT of internships have an application deadline long before the start date.
  • Plan for non-paid internships
    • In the case of a full-time, non-paid internship, what would your financial resources be?
  • Ace the interview to stand out from other qualified interviewees.
    • Interviews are mastered through trial and error—you won’t get the first one.
  • Does this internship compliment the experience you want and need?
    • Some lucky folks get hired into an errand-running position, while other luckier folks get the real deal.
  • Excel as an intern and land an opportunity that offers substantial exposure.
    • Being an intern isn’t easy. Even when your program doesn’t have a structure, you can do so much more!

The sooner you dig, the better off you’ll be later. Unless you’re well connected before your career begins, no one gets the first internship. Use the first few interviews as practice. By doing this, you’ll have a better idea of the questions you need to prepare for. Always follow up after the interview with a thank-you letter and ask for feedback. You never know, this gesture alone could be your golden ticket!

In a 2017 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), almost 91 percent of employers said they prefer graduates with previous work experience. Out of the 91 percent, an overwhelming 64 percent said that relevant work experience is preferred.

Writing

Before the interview, send an introduction e-mail expressing your enthusiasm to meet. Taking the initiative to confirm an appointment with a well-written e-mail is a reflection of your own standards. Whether it’s for a client, an interviewer, a professor, or any other contact, make well-structured e-mails a habit.

Stand out from the crowd with carefully crafted cover letters that clearly state your experience, interest, and objectives. After the interview, always follow up with a ‘thank you’ no later than a day. The latter may sound redundant, but from experience, it makes a big difference during the consideration stage.

Employers stress that writing proficiency is a MUST for entry-level jobs. Apparently, communication in any form is lacking in the new wave of graduates, so use this to your advantage!

College experience isn’t all about chores, homework, and party. Lectures are necessary, textbooks can be great resources, and friends are the cure to stress, but use this time to find your professional voice and expose yourself to people, places and events that’ll make you grow.

But these are just some areas of improvement that can go a long way. The list isn’t limited. During my university years, I was in for a rude awakening. I thought charm was going to open doors, but I was so wrong.

Stay tuned for the Top 5 Things to Master Before Graduation.

-Lorena Lucero

Don’t just graduate— Be a Pro.

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