What Advice Would You Give A College Senior?

Education & Training with HD Realty BK662006

What Advice Would You Give…

I’ve been asked to speak at a conference next week for about 100 college juniors and seniors that hold leadership roles in their sorority. They’ve asked me to speak about what they can do to succeed in today’s tough job market besides just getting their degree.

I’ve really been thinking about this a lot. What a big difference I might be able to make in these young ladies’ futures! It’s an awesome responsibility that I’ve agreed to bear.

I think I’ve come up with a few things to focus on…see if you agree with me and please, forward me any other ideas you have.

When I first graduated college (we won’t mention the year!) we were in the middle of bad economic times as well. Florida’s unemployment rate hit 8.2% and over half of the employers didn’t show up to the campus job fair. I know what it’s like. I know it’s been many years since I’ve been “in the job market”, however, I think after all of these years in the real world, I know a little bit about what it takes to be successful.

You’ve got to set yourself apart from the rest of the thousands of college graduates that are looking for a job. I personally would rather hire a B or C student that was very active in extracurricular activities than a straight A bookworm that has no knowledge outside of the classroom. Here’s some things that I personally would like to see on a resume:

~If you worked while a student, was it in your desired field and what skills and responsibilities did you take on? (as opposed to flipping burgers, or if you flipped burgers, how did you do your job better than anyone else and what extra duties did you do?)

~What clubs and associations were you active in and what leadership roles did you hold? Everyone always thinks that President is the best position to hold, but when you’re looking for a job, that just tells me you were popular and had a lot of friends, it doesn’t tell me how capable you are. I’d rather hire the vice president that usually does all of the work, the treasurer that watches the budgets, the membership chair that’s a great recruiter, or the secretary responsible for keeping it all straight. (Although if I’m hiring a sales person, I’m probably going to look at the president, they sure can talk their way into things!)

~Did you make the most of your elective credit choices? I’ve always thought that the “underwater basket weaving” type classes are a complete waste of your time and money, but if you are well rounded by picking up things like public speaking, a foreign language, or even a sport (I took Volleyball I & II) you will make a more balanced employee.

~What specific skills did you need or gain in the positions you held? And how will those help my company? For example, I didn’t know how great it would be on my resume at the time, but my senior year I was editor of the Panhellenic Recruitment Magazine. The entire magazine was a giant sales pitch for joining the Greek system, and I was responsible for: recruiting and selecting my “staff”, coordinating photo shoots, selling advertisements to help with the budget, negotiating with printers, and working with the design staff on the layout. How’s that for “real-world” training?

~What were you active in OFF campus? Church, Charities, Chamber of Commerce? (wow, that’s a bunch of C’s!) That shows that little bit of extra “drive” that I want from my employees.

The next thing I’m going to suggest is that you do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door. And once it’s in there, make yourself invaluable to the company. I first took a part-time job at a store at the mall and showed them what I could do and then quickly moved up. No, it was not my dream job by far, but hey, I had to pay the bills!

How can you make yourself invaluable once you’re in there? Well, keep this in mind: If money’s tight and I need to lay someone off, will it be the person that COSTS me money or MAKES me money? Exactly! So do whatever you can to MAKE your company more money. That means help bring in new clients, even if that’s not your job description!

Any employee at any level in any company can always do a part in increasing revenue, whether it’s “selling” your product at every opportunity with your friends or researching some potential new clients for your boss. The other way to help put a dollar figure on your value to the company is to keep your eyes out on a way to cut costs for the company. One place I worked had an employee make a small suggested change and she saved the company over $250,000 per year on overnight mail. She has made herself valuable to the company.

Another way to make yourself invaluable is to learn all of the systems and be able to perform multiple jobs within the company, it’s called Cross-Training. If you are able to cover different positions and run different programs, you will be less likely to be laid off.

The third thing I want to suggest is that you learn whatever you can about selling skills and communication skills. These are probably the two most critical things that you can do in ANY field you want to go into. As you become a better communicator you will quickly see how it will get you where you want to be, not only in your career, but in your personal life as well. (by the way, one of my favorite books on this subject is “Instant Rapport” by Michael Brooks. It’s about $10 at the bookstore and at Amazon.com)

I know many of you will argue that you’re not going into “sales” so you don’t need selling skills, but you will quickly discover that EVERYTHING in life is sales… dating and interviewing you are selling yourself, want to take the lead on a new project at work? Better sell your boss on the fact that you can handle the responsibility! Want your husband or kids to do the dishes? Yep, that’s selling too… see what I’m getting at? Even if you’re not IN sales, you’re IN sales.

And of course, I’m going to talk about the joys of entrepreneurship (can’t help it, that’s who I am!)

I NEED YOUR HELP!  I would like to give the ladies a handout with some of my key points, and I want to share some of your golden tips with them as well. Please send me a 1 or 2 sentence piece of advice that you would give to someone graduating in the next year and going out in the real world. I will put all of our golden tidbits on a handout for them to keep as inspiration. Email them to Andy@AndyTolbert.com and in the subject line put “college tips” or post them as a comment, and also if you don’t want your name shared on the handout, just tell me to make it anonymous, if you don’t specify, I will share your name, if that’s ok with you!

Thanks for reading today, it’s kind of a long one, but I’m really excited about it!


p.s. If you read all the way down to here...you might have even picked up some tips for YOUR business!

p.p.s.  If you'd like to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter filled with all kinds of tips, ideas, and a fresh/positive outlook on the market, please visit www.AndyTolbert.com and you can also download my free paper on the 6 Critical Questions Every Real Estate Professional Needs to Ask About Foreclosures.


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Real Estate Best Practices
All Things Florida
POSITIVE ATTITUDE for the Weary Soul
Real Estate Instructors
sales skills
business tips
andys stories

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Tell them part of the education is how are you or your parents going to pay for that $50,000 ivy league school. Yes it is an honor to go there, be accepted, but what about the bill on the other end? And if they are not sure which field of study...pace yourself with the cost. So many young adults come out, don't use the degree of study, have debt, then go back and hope a masters may make the difference. Life is hard enough without a ton of debt added on. My dad's college commencement speaker told the new graduates I hope you young people have set backs, learn valuable lessons early on so you can benefit from them thru out your life. You'll do fine...tell them to stick with it, don't have an entitlement attitude when they get out and be grateful to just have a job to provide for their future family with.

Mar 13, 2009 08:58 AM #1
Jamie Boney
Mungo Homes - Columbia, SC

I would say to believe in yourself.  You can start big, you don't always have to work your way up.  If you show professionalism and confidence, others will believe in you too!

Mar 13, 2009 08:58 AM #2
Gina Tufano
Ask Gina & Company with Pearson Smith Realty - Sterling, VA
Ask Gina & Company, Northern Virginia Real Estate

I am going to pass on this advice to my assistant who is currently a Senior at George Mason..! I am sure that she will appreciate the advice and give her some peace of mind.

Mar 13, 2009 09:10 AM #3
Wayne Golliday
Mobile Home Sales of Florida LLC - Jacksonville, FL

Wow Andy that will be some talk you will have to give.  I wish you luck.  I have two boys in college right now and we talk on the phone everyday.  I have had similar discussions with them and their friends.  I tell them all the same thing.  Stay in college and get your education now.  If you quit now, later it will be harder to go back.  Get the most advanced degree you can afford.  Before you try to go out on your and start your own business work for someone else first.  You can gain years of knowledge working for someone for just 4 or 5 years.  Learn from their mistakes and apply what you have learned.  Never stop learning

Mar 13, 2009 09:22 AM #4
Maya Thomas LLC, Broker
Key West, Key Haven, Geiger, Sugarloaf, Cudjoe, Summerland - Key West, FL
Key West FL Historic Old Town Estates, Bungalows

Get your masters degree.

Mar 13, 2009 02:28 PM #5
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Andy, you probably graduated in 1990.

That's when I finished undergrad and that year and 1991 were rough.  I did what Maya suggested and went to grad school.  I think the points you made above are not only valid, but important.  If I had to add anything, I would have the students ask themselves a question when going into an interview: "How will this company benefit from hiring me?"  And in the interview, make sure they let the interviewer know that s/he will be an asset and why.

Of course, grad school is always a viable alternative!

Mar 13, 2009 04:55 PM #6
Ethan Tilton 1st Choice Home Buyers, LLC www.IBuyThem.com

I'd tell them to start off by reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, and The Richest Man in Babylon. For me, college really wasn't worth what I paid for it. I never felt like I learned anything of value in school and Rich Dad Poor Dad pressed the fact that I didn't have to do well, or like school to be successful. After I read those books, I started going through 3 or 4 books a month on real estate and investing. I learned more from my personal reading, my $100 IRC membership and my 2 internships than I did in kindergarden all the way up through college. I majored in finance and minored in real estate. I do real estate full-time now and have never used anything in my career that I learned in the 6 real estate classes that I had to take to obtain the minor. If I had to give advice, I'd press the fact that everyone needs to sharpen their sales skills...like it or not. Like you said, we are always selling ourselves. Also, I'd stress that they need to come out of their comfort zone. I'm reading the 4 Hour Work Week right now and one line in it says: A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Lastly, I'd tell them to try and do as many internships as they can while in college. Anyway, thats my 2 cents

Mar 16, 2009 03:53 PM #7
Andrea "Andy" Tolbert
HD Realty - Sanford, FL
Broker, Safety Expert, Instructor

To all that said get masters, etc. I have to chime in and respectfully disagree.  I have plenty of friends with MBA's etc that aren't working at all right now, or are in fields they hate.  I actually love what many kids do in Europe and Australia: when they finish high school they go on a road trip for many months to "find themselves" and then go back to college.  Too many students are in school for the sake of being in school or to make their parents happy, but they're in a field they hate.  My sister has a degree in nursing: hates it!  Another friend dropped out of law school 2 classes short of her degree.

I know it's much harder to go back to school as an adult, but when you do, it's because you REALLY want it and you will be more successful and satisfied.

Ethan: Thanks for saying it!  My "Professional" friends think I'm crazy when I tell them the only thing I learned in college was how to find a parking space in a crowded lot!  Then they really freak out when I tell them how our wills are set up!  Tim & I have no children (by choice, I promise) but several neices and nephews.  We set it up so that our estate will go to them in the form of a 50% match to the money they put up personally to start a business.

I know, that one sentence alone could start a string of 100's of comments and arguments...I've heard them all over dinner with friends!

Thanks for the feedback guys & gals!

Mar 17, 2009 12:18 AM #8
Candace Curtis
Keller Williams Realty Florida Partners - Daytona Beach, FL
Helping Buyers & Sellers Realize their dreams!

What an honor to be asked to speak in front of such young, impressionable minds.

My son graduated from UF in Dec and is struggling with the job market right now.  Unfortunately, a college education is important but they do not teach "real world" skills to help our kids get started in life, and sometimes those kids just don't want to listen to "Mom and Dad". 

The only recommendation I can make is to tell them to keep an open mind when searching for that first job.  It may not be in their field of choice, but having that job will make them more marketable to other employers.  I think most companies looking to hire someone will want someone who is already out there making their way rather than someone waiting...to be hired. 

Understanding money and budgeting and paying bills, something that's easy to us as adults just doesn't make a lot of sense to some kids and I too recommend those books like Rich Dad Poor Dad.   One can never be too educated about finances, especially at a young age.  I wish I had someone telling me what to do when I was that age.

Good luck with the speech, I know you'll be fabulous.

Candace Curtis, Weichert Realtors


Mar 17, 2009 03:02 AM #9
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

How about be willing to work, and work hard, to prove yourself. Too many college grads come into the office thinking they know it all and will start at high salaries. THey don't want to answer phones or take out the garbage. I'm the broker/owner and I do both of those things! They don't think they should have to.

I once told a new grad YES if he wanted coffee, he could make a pot if it was empty. He just looked at me like I was on another planet. Pitch in and show you are willing to do whatever it takes. In this economic environment, nobody is above any task.

Mar 21, 2009 09:46 AM #10
Gregory Lohr
Freedom Foreclosure Prevention Services - West Columbia, SC

Wow Andy, that is some great advice, and some of the comments so far are great as well.

One thing I might add...these things would be better if presented BEFORE college rather than when they are close to getting their degree.  Catch them early in high school with this informatoin, to get their minds prepared, and reinforce it all through college.  I wish I would have heard this info around the 9th grade.

School seems to be concerned with teaching i before e except after c, and 1+1=?
Our youth need some valuable life lessons as well, things that will help them in life rather than simple or advanced math.  What can be done to get our schools to introduce life lessons that are valuable?

And thanks for the great blog!

Mar 24, 2009 01:24 AM #11
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Andrea "Andy" Tolbert

Broker, Safety Expert, Instructor
Ask me a question
Spam prevention

Additional Information