A recent talk with Freshmen at Tennessee State University (www.tnstate.edu/firstyear) spurred my thinking. I am often heard to say that the motivations of the student determine the value of the education. This is especially true in our current political and economic environment. But, it has always been true in regard to the distinction between degrees and education, jobs and careers, making money and creating wealth. Two pieces of advice are crucial to your perspective and your execution in your approach to learning. First, value what you produce. It is a reflection of you. For this, many programs cause students to maintain a portfolio.
Second, always be able to give an explanation for your choices and of your competence. For this, many programs give students the gift of requiring them to defend their portfolios prior to graduation.
Following, I offer some advice for students that can also apply to job seekers looking to revive their interviewing skills.
Keep Your Projects
Your assignments from classes are evidence of your ability. When you produce throw-away work, you demonstrate your approach to your work. Consider partnering with professors as your consultant to create projects that you can both be proud of and motivated by.
Even beyond the confines of the syllabus, seek to create show pieces that will demonstrate elements of what you want to do in your career. Often, students feel that the assignment is set in stone. Granted, some professors do approach assignments this way. This is fine when the assignment fits nicely into your competency basket. When it does not, write out an alternative assignment ensuring that all the elements of the original assignment are covered. Present that option to the professor, and potentially bring more joy to your work.
Focus on Expertise
Focus on developing expertise not just getting a job. Your degree is only one part of the equation of qualification. It is even less in the calculation of competence. You will want to develop an ability to analyze problems, develop solutions, procure resources, and judiciously organize interventions. Employers may hire you without the expertise, but their patience with incompetence will mean a short-lived career for you.
Rehearse Talking about Yourself
The only comment I hear more than “I don’t like talking in front of people” is, “I don’t like talking about myself. Some coaches suggest that you “sell” yourself. I use another analogy. I say you should interview the interviewers to determine if your goals can be obtained through their employ. Your expression of YOU will come as a natural byproduct as you seek to match their thoughts about their business with your interests, experiences, and aspirations.
My hope is that attention to the above reinforces the value, perspective, and habits of success. Value your thoughts as well as your work. Build toward a reality in which you are paid for your thoughts more highly than your labor. Communicate the beauty of you through genuine interest in the opportunity to collaborate with others.
[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a father of two girls and a boy. He is also a 20 year veteran husband. He works as a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]