Preparing College Students For the Workforce

ImageAn Interview with Dr. Barbara S. Andrew, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy of William Patterson University

Conducted By Victoria Andrew, Director, Owner, and Managing Writer of Words Prevail, LLC

VICTORIA ANDREW: What, in your opinion, is the most important thing a college student should do to prepare for the workforce prior to graduation?

BARBARA ANDREW: Go to the career center on campus. Preferably, students should go during their freshman year. Yet, even if you have already graduated, you can still go to the career center. They will assist you in writing your resume; they will have an extensive database of jobs and networking contacts of alumni.

Second, try to find a job or an internship in college. It is most helpful to find one related to the job you want to work in. Any job or internship will help you gain experience, give you contacts, and find out which work environments best suit you.

Third, ask professors for letters of recommendation during your last semester or right after your graduation. Your college might have a letter of recommendation service where you can file those letters. It’s a good thing to ask your professors early on so they can start writing a letter of recommendation while your work is fresh in their minds.

VICTORIA ANDREW: What do you do as a professor in your classroom to prepare your students for a career after graduation?

BARBARA ANDREW: I encourage them to go to career center workshops. I encourage students to volunteer or get internships. I talk to students about what kinds of careers are most likely to be available according to their majors after graduation and according to the trends that you hear about in the economy.

I also tell students to be creative and flexible in thinking about their degrees. Some students think that their majors lead directly to a job. This is usually a mistake. Most undergrad majors are not directly linked to a job. Instead, in college, you are getting a wide variety of skills relatable to a wide variety of jobs. We also have to take into consideration that a lot of current jobs won’t be available 15 years from now, and a great deal of new jobs will be created. While in college, it is important to focus on acquiring a certain skills set instead of preparing for a specific profession.

VICTORIA ANDREW: How does achieving a major in philosophy give you a competitive edge in the job market after graduation?

BARBARA ANDREW: Many of my students ask, “How is majoring in philosophy going to assist me in landing a job? How will it help me?” Majoring in philosophy is no different that majoring in English or sociology. If anything, majoring in philosophy makes you more unique in the job market and assists you in standing out in the eyes of a hiring manager.  Some of the specific benefits I tell philosophy majors are the following:

  • Philosophy students take many courses in logic, which trains  in reasoning and argumentation skills. These directly apply to a wide variety of jobs which match those skills. For instance, when you study logic and argumentation, you find out how to practice powers of persuasion and consultative selling skills so you can most likely succeed in sales.
  • According to the Educational Testing Service, philosophy majors also score higher on the GREs than any other major (with the exception of physics majors). Philosophy students also score higher on LSATs than prelaw majors. Lastly, philosophy students consistently score higher on the GMATs than business majors.  Thus, if you want to go to grad school, philosophy is the way to go.
  • Philosophy majors are also very strong writers, good at writing short and succinct arguments. You know, the person who can write the best office memo often wins the office dispute. If you become skilled at writing short, clear arguments, you are likely to be successful in the corporate world where communication requires that skill.
  • At the beginning of a philosophy graduate’s career, they usually earn just as much as any other graduate. However, as they progress into a mid-level career, philosophy majors are in the top third of wage earners. Thus, what we can surmise is that philosophy majors rise more in their careers than average.

VICTORIA ANDREW: What is the most preeminent thing that a new grad needs to implement into their resume?

BARBARA ANDREW: I would suggest consulting with a Certified Professional Resume Writer, such as the phenomenal writers of Words Prevail, LLC, to answer that question. Or, once again, visit your career center for guidance.

Ultimately, the point of college is to learn how to be a thinking citizen and how to be a person who will think broadly and deeply about social, scientific, and ethical issues which will help you succeed in the corporate world. The skill set you develop in college include the ability to perform research and to seek knowledge for the sake of seeking knowledge.

Most college professors are experts in their subject matter and not necessarily in careers outside of academia. For instance, college isn’t going to teach you how to be a phenomenal pharmaceutical rep, but it can teach you to how interpret the literature, how to make persuasive presentations to a diversity of doctors, and how to be a good conduit between doctors, patients, and pharmaceutical companies.

In college you will garner a strong set of skills you can apply to any job. Yet, keep in mind that the purpose of a college degree is much broader than finding a job.

VICTORIA ANDREW: Thank you, Professor Barbara Andrew, for your very helpful advice for our entry level/ recent grad clients. We encourage such prospective clients to call us at Words Prevail where we can help evaluate your skills and help you achieve your professional aspirations by composing a powerful resume for you that will garner the attention of hiring managers and give you a competitive edge even in a volatile economy. We are also available to give workshops and presentations on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and networking skills. Contact Victoria Andrew at victoriamandrew@wordsprevail.com or call 407.488.6055 for a free consultation today.

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About Victoria Andrew

Victoria Andrew is a writer, VP of marketing for a startup publishing company, and is the owner and director of Words Prevail, LLC www.wordsprevail.com. Ms. Andrew has a BFA in fiction writing and is a certified professional resume writer with the Professional Association of Resume Writers. She has pursued comprehensive studies in grant writing with the American Grant Writers Association and The Foundation Center. She has also achieved a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Chicago's Graham School of Continuing Studies. She has applied her education in a variety of settings ranging from groundbreaking nonprofit organizations of Chicago, Fortune 500 companies, an international career management firm, and prestigious publishing companies including Scholastic. Having composed marketing documents and career transition strategies for hundreds of executives across the world, she maintains a record of producing lucrative results.
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