How To Stay Competitive For Jobs During College

Joe Grimm, journalism professor and former recruiter for the Detroit Free Press, has some tips for gaining a competitive edge during your time in college.

According to Grimm, there is no such thing as starting too early when considering your career path and how you can land your dream job.

Most incoming students know the basics; perform well academically, get involved in career-related extra curricular activities and establish a well-balanced social life to complete your college experience.

But one aspect students don’t dive into right away is internships and other methods of setting yourself apart from other students early on.

Like I’ve said before, all of your peers will graduate with a degree and likely an internship under their belt, so setting yourself apart from the masses will take creativity and certainly the will to be successful.

The key to this is starting early. Now this doesn’t just mean internships, but rather anything that can advance your career-related skill sets.

I spoke to Grimm to about some tips for students to stay competitive and land a job after graduation.

 Maddie: What can we do during college to be more marketable?

Grimm: “It’s never too early to start thinking about your career. I know an 8th grader who is handing out business cards and another who is posting videos; they’re not waiting, so you shouldn’t either. Start to build networking skills and practice carrying on business conversations with people.”

Maddie: What are employers looking for when hiring new graduates?

Grimm: “They want people who have hustle, who take initiative, who are optimistic and who work well with others. Not everybody can do these things. You have to be unafraid to take risks, and at the same time be good at learning new things without giving up old things.”

Maddie: Why is college a good setting for expanding and exploring your skills?

Grimm: “While people are in college, it’s a good time to create or make something. This could be a website, a student group, a conference, many things. When you go to job interviews and say you’re creative, you also need to be able to demonstrate it. You haven’t owned a skill until you use it.”

Maddie: Any other tips for competitive college students?

Grimm: “Find your secret, your superpower. Take you strengths and make your specific skills marketable. Take what you’re already good at and become super at it, because it’s important for jobs.”

 So as you can see, professionals want students that don’t simply let their lives pass them by in college. The students that sit back watching their peers start clubs, freelance for news organizations, and make award-winning science projects are virtually watching them take their jobs.

Like Grimm says, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Instead, harvest the skills you already have into projects and other creations you can use to impress employers when graduation is near.

College is full of opportunities and free outlets to create masterpieces, whatever those may be to you. Take advantage early and employers will take notice.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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