Soft Skills, Hard Skills, and the Power of Thank You Cards

This is my first post as a weekly contributor for  I want to thank Melissa, Dan, Chelsea and the entire Student Branding staff for inviting me to be a writer — it is an honor to be a part of this community.

What I Hope to Accomplish with You:

Since founding in 2009 I have been deeply involved in the world of student branding and career building.  The reason for starting our company was a frustration with the lack of diversity of internship options on campus and the lack of resources to help students explore various career paths.

As the job market has contracted and the skills employers seek from recent grads continue to change, my favorite part of my job is sharing the knowledge I have developed in this space to help students through the tricky process of landing a first internship and discovering a rich career.

In speaking with thousands of students I have found that the transition from college to career is both daunting and exciting for two major reasons:

  • First, the skills and lifestyle critical for college success is often very different from the skills and lifestyle needed for career success. Adapting to the office world requires a repertoire of abilities (from email and Excel spreadsheets to networking and office politics) that need to be learned and honed.
  • Second, most students are only exposed to a small slice of the total career paths that exist in their field of interest. On campus and before diving into the professional world you tend to hear and learn about big name companies, whether that is Facebook for tech students or Ernst & Young for business students.  The reality is that the professional world is a lot deeper than this – and exploring which company has the right mission, size, culture and people for you can be another really big mountain to climb.

I want to work with you and share ideas, tips, and strategies to better tackle these two major challenges.  In my posts I will offer actionable tips about how to develop the hard and soft skills that lead to better job success, like how to create business cards on the cheap, but I will also share stories that foster reflection on the career process as a whole.

Standing out with a $.50 Thank You Card:

To give an example, I want to share the story of one of our first intern hires.  A few semesters back we posted an opportunity for a marketing intern and got a huge number of applications (over 20) from qualified students.  When we read resumes and began the interview process a number of applicants all appeared to be a good fit, and we knew the decision was going to be tough.

Two days later as we were still contemplating the decision, we received in the mail a hand-written thank you note from one of the applicants.  We ended up hiring him the next day.  This simple $.50 card demonstrated that he was dedicated, organized, and most of all understood that taking a little extra effort to do something exceptional can be a powerful tool in the professional world.

Doing a good job at student branding doesn’t always need to be time consuming or expensive – it can simple as long as it conveys your personality as a professional.

I am extremely excited to begin writing this weekly blog to work with all of you about thinking critically about branding and career challenges you are facing.  On a final note — while I have a lot of information that I look forward to sharing, I know that when it comes to building a personal brand, broad stroke advice can only go so far. I want to encourage everyone to write questions and thoughts in the comment section below and I will do my best to respond to every one (if you have a private question feel free to email me –

Thanks and I look forward to connecting!



Nathan is co-founder and Director of Marketing at After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Nathan joined long-time friend and co-founder, Andrew Maguire in starting InternMatch to build a better way for students to find interesting internships. Nathan has spoken at Stanford, University of Washington, and countless other west coast schools on how to find the right career and stand out in a tough job market.  Nathan enjoys meeting new people, the challenges of startup life, and helping students navigate their future — feel free to email him internship or any other questions

Related posts:

  1. Does Your Resume Show The Top 7 Soft Skills?
  2. Why Every Student Needs Business Cards
  3. Be Like Batman. Create a New Identity on LinkedIn.

6 Responses to “Soft Skills, Hard Skills, and the Power of Thank You Cards”

  1. Hi Nathan and welcome as a weekly contributor to I look forward to your insights and your weekly posts.

  2. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    Welcome to Student Branding Blog Nathan. Although many people advocate writing a handwritten thank you note, I think a vast majority of people would have a leg up on their competition by sending even an electronic thank you.
    It doesn’t stop after the interview either. Anytime someone does something for you, it’s appropriate – and appreciated – to thank them with a formal note, whether handwritten or emailed. It’s the type of thing that makes you stand out in the business world.

    • Lew thanks for the welcome and I absolutely agree. Even doing a simple e follow-up is a big improvement. I think many students are uncertain how aggressive to be when dealing with potential employers and this is something that takes time to learn. Typically as long as you are polite being more aggressive is a good thing.

  3. avatar Sage Nenyue says:

    This really is the icing on the cake! I know when people do small things for me along these lines, I’m touched beyond measure! Also, congratulations on becoming a weekly contributor! This is my first visit to this site and I’m glad I came across relevant information! :D

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  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

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  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

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