NOTE: an earlier version of this post appears on michaelgowin.com.
In my role as a business professor at Lincoln Christian University, I get to work with some students who want to do cool things and change the world. One of our 2013 graduates, Ben Harrison, emailed to update me on his life last fall. He’s a hustler (in a good way), gainfully employed, and working on a lot of things outside of his job. Ben offered a few words of advice to students yet to graduate. I’m sharing them here.
I have observed and learned things these past couple months which I dearly wish I had been told/heeded back when I was in undergrad. I thought they might be valuable for your students to hear from me, as I am a recent graduate. Obviously, only share with them excerpts which you find valuable, but the advice is as follows.
- Do not waste your undergraduate years. I took several 21 credit-hour semesters, graduated in 3 years (with honors), played intramural sports on campus, worked a job every weekend, and for a short time I worked another job during the week as well. Nevertheless, I had more free time then than I have now. What I learned in class was extremely valuable, and I soaked up everything I could from my business classes, but I did not pursue learning beyond my classes and readings. That was a mistake. The alternative income streams I am now pursuing (affiliate marketing, blogging, writing, investing), I sorely wish I had started those back when I started the business program. Learn, Learn, Learn.
- Get business experience (even if it is volunteer work) and pay attention in Business Communication class. I neglected to get much professional business experience in college, however, what I learned in Business Communication class paid off extremely well. With no professional business experience on my resume, said resume/cover letter landed me an interview which led to a job within 3 weeks of graduating. In the past month, I have had to turn down 5 calls for job interviews, all in professional fields.
- That’s another item to note. When applying for a job, do not get discouraged by a lack of response. For some reason it took 4 out of 7 hiring managers 2 months to get back to me and ask for an interview.
- By the way, I applied for 50+ jobs in the weeks following graduation. There are jobs out there; they just take work and resilience to find. I actually turned down the first 2 jobs I was offered because I knew that I would have been a poor fit. I am so thankful for the people in my life who encouraged me to not sell myself short with the first job offered me.
- Hiring managers love to see “self-employed” on a resume. I had a lawn care business back in high school which got the attention of several hiring managers for this very reason. If you do not have that similar experience, or any good business ideas from which to create said experience, take Professor Teoro up on his window washing idea. If you have not heard of it yet, then he is slacking off. But seriously, suck it up, wash windows, and when you graduate you can place self-employed/business owner on your resume. Hiring managers will love you.
- If you have the opportunity or knack, learn about computers and get something IT related on your resume. There is so much money in IT, this can only end well for you.
Thank you for everything, Mr. Gowin! I hold the education and instruction I received there in the highest esteem, and am grateful for the many opportunities it opened (and continues to open) for me.