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My plea to college students looking for a job or internship

I attended another career fair yesterday at Champlain College. I recognized several students from the last time I attended. Surprisingly they didn’t recognize me or mention they stopped by last time. (I would hope you remembered!) One student even asked what we did – even though I had a detailed discussion with him last time.

I can get past the memory gaps, but what I can’t get past is how many students interested in doing work on the web lacked a portfolio or examples of their work – not even to mention a personal website. And thus, my plea to college students looking for a job or internship:

Put yourself on the web. Make a website. Start a blog, Work with a new programming language. Build a portfolio.  Connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. Tell me who you are, show me what you can do, and make it happen.

I talked with countless students yesterday who were graphic design majors, programmers, game art designers, communication majors, computer information systems guys, and more. They all wanted to work on the web. And only a handful of them could produce links to work or whip out their iPad and show me a slideshow of graphics work (and that particular student was a freshman!)

Use your passion, drive, and determination to create something new every day – and be proud of it. You wouldn’t be in the major you chose if you didn’t love it, right? So, show the world what you can do!

And if you don’t have a blog, post pictures of your life on Instagram, connect with LinkedIn groups, write about observations of college life, start a recipe blog, etc. Find what makes you tick and write about it. Once a week – that’s all I ask. Show employers you can communicate well using the written word. A blog or project work would impress the hell out of me as an employer – even if you write about different breeds of cats and you’re looking for a graphic design internship. I don’t care. If you write incredibly well about cat breeds and your blog looks nice, I’m bringing you in for an interview. You clearly know there’s more to getting a job than simply handing your resume over to a recruiter.

Oh, you don’t have a resume (which happened to me 10 times yesterday)? You should turn around, go sit at your desk and create one. Need help? Go see career services. They’re awesome. Make a resume. I don’t care if it’s 1/3 of a page because you don’t have experience. I don’t care if it tells me you played with Barbies when you were 7 and you babysat the neighbors iguana while working at SillyBilly’s Ice Cream Stand in high school. How am I going to remember you? Make it happen right now.

Now, back to making a website…….

But a website is hard to maintain! or I’m taking web class next semester, so I can’t build one yet.

Come on, guys. Don’t wait. Go build a SquareSpace site, use Weebly, or install WordPress. Yeah – I know, it’s not helping you learn along side a classroom environment. But, it’s helping you execute. These services exist for a reason – to help you build a website in under ten minutes. TEN MINUTES.

The world is the web (plus some face-to-face communication sprinkled on top). If you want to work in the web, you better be on it. Create a website, design a slick resume, and be prepared to show me what you’ve done to set yourself apart from the people who can’t remember to bring a resume to a career fair. You’re better than that, aren’t you?

Start building. Start doing. Don’t wait for next semester to learn how to execute.

Execute now.

// end rant

About the Author

Michael Adams is a 26-year old entrepreneur living in Vermont. He writes about personal improvement, marketing, bootstrapping his startup, and life's general observations. Learn more about him.

3 Comments

  1. I have two suggestions for those having difficulty finding a job in their field:
    1. Volunteer in or near your field… you will get to meet and work with people doing what you want to do; you’ll hear about job openings; you’ll get a leg up on references even before you have paid work; and you’ll test the waters — Is this really what you want to do?

    2. If you can’t work or volunteer in your field, work or volunteer near it! I worked as an office assistant in the TECH depart, learned tech while in that job, and stepped into a tech position when one opened up. You put yourself in the right place at the right time, meet those who can help you into the field, and are surrounded by people who do and know — what you want to do and know. If all else fails, work or volunteer in your local county job ad career center. You’ll be ear to the ground on employers looking for staff, and new jobs open in your field!

    • Hi Robin,

      Thanks for the great tips! Volunteering is a great way to put yourself out there. You never know who you’re going to meet to help you reach the next level in your career.

  2. Working in Information Technology is not for everyone. It demands having a technical aptitude, and in many circumstances, it can be very stressful. There are some individuals who perform much better under stressful conditions. They should not be considered as masochists, but it appears that stress can be used to help improve performances. This type of stress is often referred to as good stress. If you are one of those individuals who actually working in high stress environments, you should considers some contract IT jobs.

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