What Skills Do College Students Need After Graduation [Part 1 of 3]

Mike King and I co-hosting “Heading Home” on WSAE in 1994.  Showing off my Cosby sweater.  I was just beginning to understand that who I am matters more than what I can do.  But at 22, it sure was a fun ride.

Part One:  Skills

I recently had opportunity to speak to communication majors at Spring Arbor University. The question I was asked to answer was “What do our students need to know as they are preparing to enter the ever-changing Com & Media workplace? What skills, knowledge, (life lessons & attitudes), etc. will be most beneficial for them to be intentionally seeking and practicing here in order to prepare them for when they enter the work force.” I titled the session “Who You Are Matters More Than What You Can Do”.  I’ve broken the presentation down into three posts which will focus on skillsattitudes and life lessons.

Porftolio vs. GPA

Your portfolio matters more than your GPA.  But your GPA does matter.  If I had to pick between an A+ talent with a 2.5 GPA and a B+ talent with a 3.5 GPA, I’d probably pick the B+ talent.  Why?  Because to me, GPA is a signal of effort and discipline.  A B+ talent will be more consistent and probably stay longer than an A+ talent with less effort and discipline.

Network

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Kevin is in the second from the left. Front row. Blue shirt. Check out is portfolio at kevinsmartmedia.com

Follow the people you want to be like.  Read what they read.  Then contribute to the conversation.  Get on Google Plus and be active there.  Post comments.  Then be faithful in the little things now.  Be a good worker today and network with people you’re around.  

 Kevin was a freshman student worker who was a rock star.  He worked hard, was steady, grafted well in culture and did a great job.  Two years later I needed a student I could count on to help my staff for a large worldwide event.  He came and knocked it out of the park.  A year later, I needed to hire someone full time.  Because of his intentional networking, he was on the short list.  The point:  He nurtured relationships from day one.  He was faithful with little things.  Then, over time, opportunities presented themselves because of his investments.

Work Ethic

20-somethings have a reputation for some great things – and some not so great.  One of the elephants in the room is that college students and post-college don’t have a solid work ethic.  I remember when I was a senior in high school I had three jobs:

  • Gas station attendant (yes, they still exist and yes, I can clean your windshield like nobody’s business)
  • Radio DJ
  • Clean the church

The summer after I graduated, I knew I was going to need to pay for college on my own.  My parents were in the ministry.  No cashola.  The local dentist on our block recognized this and wanted to give me some significant money for college.  But he wanted me to understand the value of hard work.  So he offered to pay me to dig out the basement of his office.  By hand.  Pick. Shovel. 5-gallon buckets.  Go from a 4-foot dirt floor to an 8-foot dirt floor.  I’m 6’2″.  And I did it.  And he paid me well.  Maybe it’s me sounding  like an old person.  Maybe it’s spending too much time with high school students because I have one.  Maybe it’s because I spend lots of time with college faculty and staff who share your dirty laundry.  Regardless, you have a rep.  And you can do something about it.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be punctual:  On time is late.  Be at meetings early.
  • Be tidy:  Your work area reflects you.  It can be a bit messy.  But TLC shouldn’t be asking to do a reality show about your messiness
  • Be reliable:  Become a person others can count on.  Available over the weekend.  After hours.  In a pinch.  Become a “UPS” team member.  Deliver.
  • Be committed:  If the job is requiring 50 hours this week, work 55.  Nobody likes someone who puts in the minimum.  It’s bad for culture and if I’m your boss, it would be bad for your future.

I want to work with people who are committed.  Not taking advantage.  Just knowing people are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.  As your boss, I’d rather be saying, “Take some time with you family or a few days to yourself and don’t write it down.  You’ve worked hard this month.  You need a break to have good balance” rather than, “Man, you’re not really pulling your weight.  You need to step it up.”  Make sense?  Work hard.

Related posts from this presentation:  Part One: Skills, Part Two: Attitudes and Part Three: Life Lessons.  

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.