Goals. Strategy. Passion.
You’ve passed the exams. You’ve walked the stage and shook hands with the university President. You’ve turned the tassle. You’ve celebrated with friends.
And now, you’re looking for a job. Along with thousands others who graduated with the same degree, same GPA, same age, same experience, and applying for the same jobs. How will you separate yourself from everyone else?
Working in college ministry and college interns for the past 12 years, here are 3 things I’ve learned you will need to rise above the majority:
- Goals. In my experience, when I’ve asked college graduates, “What’s next? What’s your plan now?” The answer I receive most often is, “I’m not sure.” In this answer, I hear the person saying they have no plan, no focus, no direction, and no goals. But, those things are a must. Employers aren’t looking for a short-term, low-commitment, meandering through life employee. They are looking for someone with a drive to succeed and who knows what that destination looks like for them. A goal is determining where you want to be in the future in relation to where you are today. A goal is specific. You know exactly what you are working toward. A goal is measurable. You can measure whether you fell short or exceeded your mark. A goal is challenging. You will need to stretch your abilities to reach it.
- Strategy. If you have a goal, then you need a strategy to reach your goal. From the few graduates I’ve met who have solid goals, only a small percentage have developed a strategy to meet their goal. They may know where they want to end up, but have no idea how they are going to get there. They are hoping it will happen on own its own. Most of the time it won’t happen this way. Without a strategy, chances are it will take you longer to get there, the journey will be frustrating, and you will end up at a different destination. It’s like going on a trip. If you want to drive from Columbus, OH to Los Angeles, CA, you will go to Mapquest and print out a detailed list of directions. It will tell you exactly what roads to take, how many miles to stay on each road, the exit numbers for each turn, and it will even number the steps for you. It’s silly to drive to LA without a step by step strategy. The same is true for your goals.
- Passion. You can set a goal and come up with a strategy, but they are lifeless without passion. Without passion, life and work turns into a routine. Without passion, the motivation to pursue your dreams, follow-through, and finish strong is lacking. Employers can sense a person’s passion. It’s obvious. You can’t fake it. It’s also unique and desirable. If you live with passion, you won’t be passed by.
A college degree isn’t enough. It takes more. Will you do what it takes to separate yourself?
What advice would you give to college graduates?