Credentials are not enough: Success in today’s job market requires students to gain experience beyond the classroom

Career Development services are available to students.

Mount Mary student takes advantage of resources offered by the Student Success Center. Career Development counselor Kirsten Wright is available to assist students with resumes, career counseling and job search.

By Shainah Reid

Do you have the goods?

When Christian Millman, editor-in-chief of Fresh Home magazine at Reader’s Digest, was asked what he looks for in new employees, he answered, “I’m looking for the goods.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, which means that 1 out of every 10 people in America will be searching for a job. Students everywhere need to know exactly what “the goods” are. They need to stand out as the most marketable individuals for their dream jobs or risk being let down upon graduation.

Start now

First, students must take into consideration the realistic nature of their goals. If a recent college graduate believes his or her dream job is obtainable with only a 4.0 GPA and a degree, the graduate may be mistaken.

When asked about hiring, Millman said, “We want to know that you have the ability to work with our team.” To many employers, like Millman, credentials are not enough anymore. He explains that “you need to prove what you can do.”

Barbara Morlan, M.D. and owner of Bullard Medical Group in Fresno, California, agrees. She hires two types of people for her practice: “One type has the experience, the other has a college degree and experience. Experience is always the key.”

Need experience? Get an internship

With Morlan and Millman looking for proof of ability and experience, college students may wonder how to acquire them. Internships pave the way for many college students today. An internship may be unpaid, but it usually pays off. Employers want to see some type of work experience when they consider someone for employment. This is exactly what Lorie West, an alumna from Mount Mary College and editorial assistant for Birds & Blooms and Country magazines at Reader’s Digest, did.

“My clips published in Trains magazine during my internship made me an attractive candidate. Country editor Robin Hoffman told me directly that the quality of my Trains’ clips got me the job. I was able to get the internship at Trains magazine (Kalmbach Publishing) because of my clips from Arches,” West said.

Millman explained that internships “allow you to be a known commodity when a job opens up… I know who you are and that you know how the publication process works for our magazine.”

If a student has internship experience on his or her resume, it shows that the person has been working toward a career in that field. It shows he or she is serious and determined to have this type of job.

“Employers want evidence of what an applicant can do… Think about it: if you were going to hire someone to do your homework, you’d want to see their homework first, to see if they’d do a good job,” West said.

Take advantage of resources

Today, with the Internet, prospective employees have another opportunity to demonstrate their ability to employers. Millman said that he “discovered one of the strongest editors on the team from her personality on a blog… Social media plays a huge role in hiring because we see personal style and voice.” With Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online resumes, and online portfolios, a person can really market their unique skills.

According to Kirsten Wright, the career development counselor at Mount Mary College, students should be using all resources, including the Internet, to further their job search and experience. Mount Mary students can go to the new location of the Student Success Center on the first floor of Haggerty Library, room 129, to utilize resources like career counseling and to get help with resumes, cover letters and more.

“Usually students feel more confident in their job search and much lighter when they are leaving the Student Success Center… Some have never known how to prepare for a job and we help with that,” Wright said. “We always try to accept walk-ins and usually advisers understand the personality of their students more because of the smaller population at Mount Mary … there is more time to focus on individual appointments.”

West recalled that she “was able to return to the office about four times in two weeks for work on my resume, references and cover letter.”

Mount Mary degree vs. public university degree

Mount Mary students may wonder if a Mount Mary College degree can compete against other, larger public university degrees.

According to Morlan, “It really doesn’t matter what college you come from as long as your experience and grades reflect the hard work you have done.”

Wright said that Mount Mary students are being sought out. “Many employers have contacted me wanting to know when a career fair is,” she said. “Hopefully we will be able to set up a career fair this coming spring.”

When asked specifically about the marketability of Mount Mary graduates, Millman said he has “people on Fresh Home magazine’s team from all over … Yes, Mount Mary has a great reputation … That will get you another look.”

Millman makes it clear, though, that another look is not a job offer. When he considers an applicant and looks for “the goods,” he studies every aspect of that individual. He wants to make sure that a person will have the ability, skills, and experience to “fit in and get along with the team.”

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