1. It’s not about you. People will teach you to format your selling points as though you are the product to be sold but what you need to be selling is what you can do for the company. It’s less about what you have done in the past and more about what you will do for them in the future (though the former can attest to your ability to do the latter, it should not be the only focus).
2. Employers do not care about what you majored in, what classes you took, what school you attended and what your GPA was as much as you have been led to believe. Many will breeze over them as a matter of requirement, not accomplishment. They will likely be more concerned with your skill sets, hands on experience, and how you will (and do) perform. My favorite example of this is Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, who never finished high school.
3. Show your past experience, don’t talk about it. Enter every job knowing that you have to prove yourself by action, not justify yourself by words.
4. Understand that what you have learned to do in a classroom is probably the same as the other hundreds/thousands of applicants. You have to bring something to the table that nobody else can. At this point, believing that a solid GPA, some extra curricular involvement and maybe an internship or two will land a job is naive. For the jobs that require degrees, these things are standard.
5. The need for media skills cannot be emphasized enough. They will apply anywhere and everywhere. You need to understand how media presence affects money and clientele, and what’s more is that you need to know how to work and manipulate it to your company’s favor. It’s about branding and marketing, on a simultaneously larger and yet more personal scale: your company needs to reach people in a way that is unique to them and yet universal to human like-ability.
6. Your personal social media presence is crucial as well, and while you may be aware that you shouldn’t have inappropriate photos on Facebook and what not, you probably aren’t aware of just the extent to which the lines between “personal” and “business” have disappeared. Not to mention, in many (not all) careers, it is most desirable that you already have a following of some sort, it acts as a testament to the fact that people are interested in what you do and will follow you where you go.
7. What appropriate behavior is (you’d think we would have mastered this by now). Your professors may have let it slide when they noticed you texting under your desk during a lecture, but pull a stunt like that during a business meeting? Forget about it.
8. Effectively working with people you dislike. Group projects are indeed difficult, but they also afford you the opportunity to learn to work with people who are less than desirable. Not just tolerate them, not just “get through it,” but effectively work with them to a positive end. One day you will have to do so with much more at stake than a grade that won’t matter too much in the end anyway.
9. How you become the kind of person that is desirable to work with. You need to learn to have a hell of a poker face, be kind and respectful to your superiors even when you disagree with them, and to be willing to go above and beyond at all times as both a willing team member and leader.
10. Work ethic. The bare minimum will not cut it. Professionals can smell bullshit from a mile away and more importantly, your efforts will be directly correlated with the level of your performance. Your excuses will not matter anymore. There won’t be extended deadlines, acceptable reasons for not handing in an assignment, or desire to hear you complain about how much work it was to get it done.
11. There is such thing as a stupid question. You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut. You can’t go running to your superior over every bit of spilt milk. You have to learn to function and cope and handle things by yourself.
12. You may not be able to turn any given hobby or passion into a career. That is simply the reality of it. To do so usually requires a phenomenal talent, relentless dedication and a little sprinkle of luck, and many times, those stars don’t align. You may spend many years in a job that isn’t your ideal, but will maybe afford you the opportunity to move up one day. This is okay. It is more important to find contentment in whatever you are doing at the moment, and when those big opportunities do come after you’ve worked hard for them, you’ll actually appreciate them more anyway.
13. Digital professionalism is in simplicity. Don’t use colors in emails, egregious fonts, exclamation points, etc. Do not have a personal website that looks like it was crafted from a 1995 Word document. When it comes to personal selling materials, appearances are key. You want to control where a person’s attentions are directed, and for how long.
14. You cannot take a passive role in the job search. You cannot just send out a thousand resumes and think you are differentiated from any one of your peers doing the same. Realistically, many companies do not even make their job openings public, least of all search-able on Google. You have to have an “in” most of the time. You have to be ready and willing to take internships, sometimes work for free, and other less-than-ideal circumstances. They are the building blocks that get you places.
15. You have to have the mindset of an innovator. You have to have the baseline assumption that you should go in thinking outside of the box. This requires more effort and work than passivity does, but it is probably the most important trait and piece of advice of all and it’s not something that can necessarily be taught, it’s a mindset you have to curate for yourself.