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The Polar Bear Cub – Life Skills For Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 15, 2016 in Career Path, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

Polar BearThe hope of many college seniors is to quickly land a post-grad entry level position with their first choice company, doing what they majored in, with a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional development. The reality is quite different for many hopefuls.

A polar bear mother spends a few months of the year in a den with her newborn cubs. When the cubs are larger and stronger, they are able to leave the den and walk around. The cubs are glued to their mother’s side for the next few months playfully imitating her hunting habits in preparation for later life. For life after college, many graduation seniors are woefully unprepared as they leave the protective den of their alma mater.

Carolyn Thompson of Merito Group, and author of Resumazing – Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume, touched on some of the more significant challenges that the 2016 class of graduating college students face when they begin to look for job opportunities in her interview with David Rawles, host of Career Solutions Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

One of the most underused resources on a college campus, Carolyn points out, is the career center. Many students don’t even know where it is and once you graduate, its resources will no longer be available to you. The career center can help you figure out your value proposition and connect you with employers hiring for the skills you have. They also have information on employers that recruit on campus most frequently. While you are still near the den, utilize the resources available for you.

The worst thing that many students realize at graduation is that they did not get any work experience at all and have nothing on their resume. “Any job is better than no job.” Carolyn says. You are developing a history of reliability and dependability by having a regular responsibility outside of school. You can also volunteer or take an unpaid internship to get experience and references. For instance, if you are working in a bar as an accounting major, the bar is still a business that has to do bookkeeping and taxes. Volunteer doing small tasks for them if you are having trouble finding a job in your major or field. Take a lesson from the polar bear cubs and get the experience you need before graduation without the stress of needing the skills to survive.

For all of you graduating seniors in the Metro DC area, APPLY HERE.

To help prepare in the next couple of months before graduation while you are still warm in the den (besides a visit to your career center), spruce up your resume with these tips from Carolyn:

  • Make sure your contact information on your resume is accurate. Typos in your email and cell phone number are very common mistakes.
  • Include at least your zip code in your contact information. Locality can play an important role in certain positions and your resume might not come up in searches.
  • Add a description of the companies you worked for (i.e. public or private, number of employees, revenue – whatever is relevant to the industry).
  • Bullet point your accomplishments outside of your job description so they stand out and set you apart – what you made, saved, or achieved in the role. All polar bears are white to blend in with the snow, but here you need to standout!
  • Write your skills together on your resume so they are easily found and can be reviewed quickly. (Technical skills, licenses, etc.)
  • Make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Saying you have your real estate license takes up space if you don’t need it for the job.

(Editor’s tip – if you worked through a temp agency, remember to note that on your resume so your employer can check your background more efficiently)

For those young entrepreneurs out there: Carolyn tells a story of a young person who ran his own lawn care business in college. LISTEN HERE to find out how she rewrote his resume to help him land a position as a financial analyst after graduation.

One thing to note for your job search, Carolyn mentions, is that small to mid-size companies have more flexibility in a single position to allow you to learn and do more.  A lot of grads are attracted by marque name companies, but they might not get to do much in the role in such a large organization.

In the interview, David Rawles asks Carolyn about what she thinks is the biggest myth that many students may be thinking as they enter the workforce. Carolyn replies that some people think their first job dictates their future, but this is not the case. If you don’t land your dream job right away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. Many people don’t get the job they thought they wanted and even those who do get their first choice may realize that it’s not for them and change. There is more than one ice floe in the arctic!

For more information about Career Solutions Radio with David Rawles click here.

-Lindsay Sellner, editor

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The Canopy – Protecting the Saplings

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 12, 2009 in Career Path, Job Search, Lessons Learned, Thinking Positive

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Four Gifts For Grads:

1.    Even though you are smart and have accomplished completing your degree, you’re likely going to have to start at the bottom and work your way up just like any tree in a thick forest environment. All seeds start growing from within the earth and the more experience they have, the larger they grow until they are high above the rest getting the most light!  If you set your expectations that you will learn the business from the ground up, you’ll get where you want to go eventually, right above the canopy!

2.    If you’re thinking more education is the answer, think again!  Yes, there probably will be more jobs in a couple of years when you get your additional degree, but you still need some practical work experience to combine with your education in order to get ahead.  Starting at an entry level spot somewhere that has a tuition reimbursement program is often a better bet than pursuing another degree full time.  Learn while you grow in your experience. A tree needs to grow upwards before it can really spread its branches. You will never make it through the thick rooftop of the jungle if your “branches” are too wide to penetrate the leafy ceiling. Ultimately, you don’t want to have more education combined with a lack of practical work experience, now or later! 

3.    NETWORK!  80% of all jobs are obtained through networking.  Even in my office we are looking for an entry level/intern type person and only had 2 qualified responses!  The tallest trees that form the canopy of the forest help the smaller trees and shade them from rough winds and other inhospitable elements while they are still young and new. Ask your parents, their friends, and your friends parents for help.  Be patient, and keep your Facebook page looking professional, too!

4.    Fail to plan, plan to fail!  Create a plan based on solid market research and go after jobs at the companies where you want to work. Seek to meet people who already work there by volunteering at charity events their companies sponsor.  Those people can refer you internally as jobs open up.  Create some good solid roots that will support you and hold you steady as you grow. The better your foundation, and the more you network, the higher you will be able to grow in the job search jungle!

For more information on this topic visit:

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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