Many people tend to think that just because they are in graduate school, they are somehow “better” or more qualified than others who have just an undergraduate degree. Sorry, but that’s not the case. Ask yourself right now: “Why would a company hire me over another potential candidate?” From my personal experience, I’ve come across several graduate students that really have no answer to this question. To me, this is very frightening, so this week’s post is focused on answering this specific question.
If you’re serious about differentiating yourself from the other candidates in your class- and just in general- I’d recommend you sit down and work on developing your personal student brand. First, start with a value proposition. Who is your audience and what industry are you interested in? What can you fix? What can you solve? What can you prove? Ultimately, what do you bring to the table and how do you contribute? Answering these questions are a great way to start developing your value proposition, and are key in communicating your personal skills and value to an organization.
Once you have developed your value proposition, it is important to go back to the “who is your audience” question and learn that business or industry. More specifically, if you’re interested in the marketing communications business you need to start researching what is going on in that specific field or industry and be able to relate it to the material you are currently learning. This is a win-win because you stay on top of recent news in your industry, and having the ability to discuss current events with potential employers will really impress them.
Finally, it is important to communicate your specific skills – you are, in a sense, the product. Your value proposition should focus more on what services or value you can bring to an organization as a whole while this section should focus heavily on what specific talents you have. For example, are you a data analysis person who is talented with statistical data analysis software like SPSS or Excel? Or are you a talented communicator who has the ability to handle several projects while communicating effectively between client and agency? If you’re serious about differentiating yourself, really spend some time trying to develop these ideas.
Remember that this is a work in progress and your skills and proposition will continue to develop over time.
Johnny Schroepfer is a Integrated Marketing Communications Graduate Student at Northwestern University. He is currently the Strategy & Content Director at the Medill Vitamin IMC Blog: http://www.vitaminimc.com. Connect with Johnny on Twitter @jbschroeor visit his website:http://www.johnnyschroepfer.com.