April 2015: Andreas Maerki ‘11
Concord University was a great place for me to focus on acquiring additional skills to advance my career in banking and international finance. However, if you are in college and you are not sure yet what you would like to do afterwards, I highly suggest, take classes in different areas during the first and second year to learn where your passion lies. Once you find out, read a lot about the area of interest to acquire a great understanding and become familiar with the industry terms. Having a sophisticated background in the industry you would like to break into is crucial and will differentiate you from an interested vs. a passionate potential professional of your field when speaking to people in the industry. Also, take advantage of leadership roles you may be able to fill during extracurricular activities, because having team work and leadership experience is a must in many industries.
It is important to build a strong network in your desired industry, because it will help you to be placed in your desired job. A majority of jobs are filled with candidates that have a contact within the firm/team that looks to hire qualified candidates. As an example, my firm hires summer interns. HR collects the applications and forwards these to alumni within my firm. These alumni take a look at these applications and from what I have seen give preferences to the applicants that have reached out to the alumni at the firm. That may be one way of selecting, who is and who is not invited to a first round interview.
Having a network will also allow you to obtain important industry knowledge that allow you to maintain a professional conversation and show the interviewer that you are passionate about the industry and have done your homework.
On average a hiring manager does not spend more than 6 seconds on a resume, and in many cases doesn't even touch the cover letter. Therefore, it is a must that you spend 110% on crafting your resume. If the hiring manager is intrigued by the resume, your cover letter may be read. I recommend that you craft your resume specific to the position you apply to. Mention relevant information and present it in a way, where you show how your skills can add value to the company. Look at it as a sales brochure that offers a brief summary of why you are the perfect candidate for the role you apply for.
It depends on your desired industry what skills are most relevant; however for an entry level position, having good analytical, writing and technical skills is a must. Therefore, take advantage of classes at Concord that offer to acquire such skills. Also, don't stop with the classes, find out what skills are needed in your desired industry and then learn these on your own. From my experience, many times it is important that you can pick up a book and learn to acquire skills on your own.
Interview / Follow Up:
If you find your dream position, find out who the hiring manager may be. If you don't already have a contact at the company go online and do some homework. LinkedIn is a great resource for such research. Once you apply to a job, follow up with an e-mail, letting the hiring manager or your contact know that you applied and highlight briefly (3 bullet points) how you can add value to the job/team.
Once you receive the opportunity to interview via phone or in person, do your homework. Read about the specific industry/role/responsibilities. Research if you may find any information on the person who may interview you (when invited to an interview, don't feel shy to ask who you may interview with). Your preparation for the interview will take time, but it will pay off exponentially. During the interview, look interested, take notes and before you leave ask for the interviewer's contacts. This will allow you to follow up after the interview and express your interest in the position. That follow up should happen within 24 hours of your interview.
I am happy to discuss more specifics if anyone is interested; however the aforementioned points are simply an overview. Good luck and connect on LinkedIn!