College grads must prepare themselves for work force

“I walk into a store and ask to speak with the manager. When he/she comes out, I introduce myself, “Hi, my name is Bill Ding and I’m looking for a job. Are you hiring?” The response is a prompt no.

That’s all right. I’ll just try another store. I go next door and go through the same process, only to be shot down again.

Now I’m starting to wonder if there is something wrong with me. What am I doing wrong? What is missing from my portfolio that other applicants possess to make them so marketable?

This is a common scenario students must experience when they enter the work force. They must find a happy medium that makes them stand out against their peers so they will become more marketable during a job search.

In this pursuit of balance, some join extracurricular organizations, while others focus on their schoolwork and maintain a high grade point average. Some even attend national conferences and workshops to network with established professionals and gain more insight into their respective fields.

“From my experience, I’ve found that knowing someone is what works best when looking for a job,” said Onycha Baker, a junior business administration student from Tallahassee.

However, this whole process can become quite tedious and disheartening.

At Florida A&M University, certain colleges and schools prepare their students for the job search. In the School of Business and Industry, students must take various classes that focus solely on making their personal portfolio better. Classes, such as Orators, enhance public speaking and interpersonal skills, two characteristics required in many fields.

“When I’m interviewing a person, if they cannot be open and friendly and have some sort of an air of intelligence, then I have no reason to believe they would be friendly when dealing with a customer,” said Burger King manager Alex Bowser. “They also must smile because Burger King is a customer service-oriented business.”

In addition to an amicable personality, applicants should have a background in the field they are pursuing. For example, a degree in finance may not help a person trying to be a zookeeper; however, that degree could help a person vying for a business analyst position.

“The required qualifications vary depending on the position the person is applying for; however, we definitely look for certain things like a stable work history and qualified experience,” said Capital City Bank Human Resources Generalist Sharon Petynia.

Other important skills that students should have when looking for a job are problem solving, initiative, leadership experience and computer knowledge.

In many interviews, employers will give an applicant a “what-if” situation to see how the person can think on their feet and effectively create a solution to a problem. Companies also enjoy when students are leaders in campus organizations and groups because that shows drive and initiative.

“Every employer is looking for a person who is proactive,” said Ed Pascale, Principal of Innovative Services & Solutions Group, LLC. Employers don’t want someone who they’re going to have to micromanage or someone who will be in their office every five minutes with a question.”

The initiative can flow over into the technological skills as students make the first step towards understanding how computers work and how to operate various programs. Boardroom presentations are no longer done using large bulletin boards and easels. Instead, Microsoft’s PowerPoint has become a widespread tool because of its creative enhancements.

“Even in the most blue-collar level, I mean like factory and assembly-line workers, employers are requiring new employees to show some sort of computer know-how,” said Pascale.

But don’t get too disappointed if you do not have all of these qualifications. Not all jobs require students to be active on campus and know how to execute everything. For example, Capital City Bank does not have a stipulated assessment for tellers. They just look at the general items most employers request.

Furthermore, if applicants do their homework before the interview, they can appear as well prepared as anyone.

By knowing what the company is about, what the products and services offered are and what the company’s financial status is, a person can appear very knowledgeable and get the job over someone who knew little about the position being sought.

A common rule of thumb for job seekers is to do anything and everything to make yourself stand out. Whether it’s having multiple internships to support the schoolwork or just attending a reputable school whose name will carry you far, you must do what is necessary.

It’s your life and your future at stake. Don’t spend it going door-to-door searching for a job.

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