Your college degree is worthless…that is unless you learn to supplement it accordingly and market it effectively. In Part 1 of this two-part post, we examined ways to supplement your college degree. In Part 2, we discuss how to market your degree effectively.
Marketing your college degree:
- First, don’t assume prospective employers will automatically “get” the value of your degree. Maybe you went to a prestigious school, or took only the most challenging classes offered in your major. Employers, especially those outside of the your school’s geographic area, may be unfamiliar with your school, its reputation and the specifics of your major. In interviews and other interactions with prospective employers, be prepared to explain the academic rigour of your school or course of study.
- Don’t be satisfied even if prospective employers do get the value of your college degree. “You can think critically, write effectively, problem solve” – great, and probably so can every other college grad. Look for additional ways to distinguish yourself from your classmates and from others with the same major. Identify what makes you unique.
- Hundreds of students around the country have chosen the same major as you. Therefore, simply stating your major on your resume or mentioning your major in an interview does nothing to make you stand out. That said, no one else wrote the exact same term paper on “The impact of immigration laws on self-perception among Asian toddlers” or “Transperency: the future of public relations.” The focus of your term papers, research experiments, and presentations may be of particular interest to prospective employers, so be prepared to speak about these experiences.
- Your skills probably aren’t unique either, but how you’ve used them might be. For example, saying you have leadership skills isn’t enough – too many other college students can say the same thing. Giving examples of how you’ve used your skills can demonstrate that you’ve applied your skills in a unique way. For example, perhaps you are unique because under your presidency of a green student organization, you successfully lobbied for the cafeteria to use fewer styrofoam products.
- Remember to look beyond your academic achievements when marketing your college degree. Were you an RA? An athelete? A member of an ensemble? A tutor? Did you hold an officer position for a student organization? Did you write for the school newspaper? Intern? Volunteer? Did you represent your school for Model UN? Did you present at a state or regional conference? Try not to take any of your involvements or activities for granted; when communicating with prospective employers, emphasize your unique contributions to the organizations with which you were involved.
- When talking about your college career, remember to use positive, active language. Conversely, avoid using negative or passive language. For example, avoid saying, “For my art major, I had to take sculpting, line drawing and oil painting.” Had to makes it sound like you didn’t want to. Instead, say something like, “Because of my desire to develop as an artist, I chose to take a range of art classes, including scultping, line drawing and oil painting.”
- When interviewing, be prepared to discuss the limitations of your college education. You don’t have to be too apologetic for what you don’t know, but you should demonstrate an awareness that you still have a lot to learn. Further, you might mention some of the steps you are taking to continue your learning.