Take it from a corporate speaker who spends dozens of hours each week studying how to crack the code on how to succeed in fast-changing business environments: It’s a tough market for young professionals looking to get out of college and find that perfect position, especially something that’s going to springboard them to an amazing career. That’s why it’s crucial to start with a roadmap that delineates where you want to be and the steps you need to take to get there. Still in school? Here’s what you need to know to take the world by storm the second you get out of it.
Figure it out. As any expert can tell you, you need to learn how to solve problems, because life is full of them. Tomorrow’s great leaders are going to be defined by two talents: Their ability to identify issues and create results. As we corporate speakers often note, the most effective leaders have developed what we refer to as “the tinkerer’s mindset.” Their curiosity compels them to poke, prod, try and do, then react and try new approaches when confronted by failure, which they see as a learning opportunity. And when confronted with difficult scenarios, rather than resign themselves to ignorance, they research, and rather than give up, they get busy looking for alternate ways to accomplish the task or get on the horn to find someone who can help. Just do it—having the wherewithal to try, experiment and refine until you get the desired result is the secret to success in life.
Rise above the fray. If you want to be noticed—rather than being simply an anonymous, faceless email in a company’s hiring department’s inbox—you need to achieve more than the thousands of people you’ll be competing against to land a dream job. And as most corporate speakers would point out, that means building up a portfolio of success that you can point to in an interview—a stellar GPA alone won’t cut it.
To be singular you should not only absorb as many skills and talents as possible while you’re at school, but also make as many connections as you can and take advantage of the tools, technologies and resources available to you. And of course, take advantage of the time that others are partying to put in work—what we do in the off-hours matters as much as what we do on the clock. With the Internet at your disposal, it’s easy to get involved in nearly any project, and build experience, connections, testimonials and a rock-solid work history long before you ever receive a diploma.
Time is your most valuable asset. You will never have more of it than now when you have few responsibilities and seemingly endless hours to apply towards achieving your goals. Get involved in professional groups, start projects, build things online, start a newsletter, write a blog, contribute to an online community or author bylined articles for local trade publications. (Or start taking Toastmasters classes… to kick off your budding career as a corporate speaker, who knows… all you may need is a meaningful message and willingness to speak.) You could even write a book—there are dozens of services online that will let you publish one in minutes. It doesn’t have to be “War and Peace”—it could be 30-60 pages as a Kindle Single. Take it from a corporate speaker who spends hundreds of hours working with aspiring professionals or those looking to find second acts in their career: The work you do here and now will come to separate you from the pack, define you, and make you exceptional.
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