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For Students: Leadership (2)

Saturday, 13 October 2012 03:20

9 Things That Matter More Than Your GPA

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9 Things That Matter More Than Your GPA

Adapted from an article first written by Becky Johns

The tweets poured in, and the overwhelming sentiment was that college GPA matters very little in professional success.

Grades are the determining factor for performance in school. But in the professional world, that's not how it works. Your bosses won't tell you which questions will be on the test.

Your college GPA is a combination of several factors but isn't really the best indicator of how you'll perform in the working world. We all know that person with perfect grades who struggles socially or that person who couldn't care less about school but seems to have no trouble making great things happen in their life. Book smarts and street smarts are very different things.

Take your classes seriously. Do the work. Show up and learn something. Meet your professors. But I'm here to tell you, the GPA you achieve in college doesn't matter.

Here's what does:

  • Knowing how you learn

    Spend time during college determining how you best learn and retain information. Some people need to see it, some need to hear it, some need to write it, and some need to practice it before it sticks. As an employee, you'll need to learn new things as you go, remember them, and prove you've absorbed the information.

  • Applying theory to real-life situations

    It's one thing to recite the 4 P's of marketing or learn how the purchase decision funnel looks on paper, but things won't always happen in the marketplace the way they do in your textbooks. Learn how to take fundamental information and proven best practices and apply them in new situations or projects. The real world will always throw new variables at you, so knowing how to adapt theory to practice is crucial.

  • Time management

    Learn how much time you need to research and write a paper, get to your classes and jobs on time, fit a workout in your day, and still have something of a social life. Time management is a vital skill. In your professional life, you'll need to know how to manage your time to meet deadlines, tackle to-do lists, and avoid banging your head against the wall in the process.

  • Relevant professional experience

    Jobs, internships, student organizations, and volunteer projects in your industry will prepare you best for the working world. Do as much as you can to work in your field during college and learn about what you want to do (or in same cases, what you don't want to do). Your future employer will take your experience as the absolute best indicator for your potential in a new position. 5. A portfolio that proves you can produce work Keep samples of your best work from classes and internships. Many employers will want to see your work before hiring you. If you're not building a portfolio for classes, then produce them on your own time.

    Practice writing articles, press releases, pitches, designing publications, compiling clip reports, research summaries, or anything else you might be hired to do. Practice is important.

  • A portfolio proving you can produce work

    Keep samples of your best work from classes and internships. Many employers will want to see your work before hiring you. If you're not building a portfolio through things you're required to do before you graduate, then produce these things on your own time. Practice writing articles, press releases, pitches, designing publications, compiling clip reports, research summaries, or anything else you might be hired to do. Practice is important.

  • The ability to give and receive feedback

    Learning to accept praise and criticism is incredibly important. You'll participate in employee reviews with your boss someday, so the ability to hear different types of feedback, internalize it, and adjust accordingly will matter to your job performance.

    It's also important to learn to how to give feedback to others. When you collaborate with colleagues, you'll have to offer positive and negative comments on others' work.

  • Presentation skills

    Offer to be the speaker on behalf of your group in your classes, and learn how to present your projects as an intern. The ability to convey ideas clearly, speak confidently with your bosses, and discuss your experience in interviews will be an important part of your professional life.

  • Writing skills

    It's sad how many students leave college lacking solid writing ability. Focus on developing this skill, because it will matter in everything from reports to pitches to emails. You don't have to become a blogger, but finding places to practice writing content and have it edited will really help improve your skills.

  • Your network

    You've heard it many times: "Who you know is more important than what you know." It's true. (It's what you need and who you know.) Start building your network right away. Get in the habit of meeting new people, nourishing your relationships, and helping others by making introductions. You are most likely to find job opportunities through your network. Build it!

    What else matters more for students than GPA? Or am I wrong? Is GPA more important than I've made it out to be?

Adapted from an article first written by Becky Johns—PR professional, photographer, writer and self-proclaimed adventure-seeker. Read more at or on Twitter @beckyjohns.

10 Things You Must Know Your First Year Out of College

By Rachel Zupek

Have you ever noticed how young people graduate from college and suddenly they think they know everything? While they may know a lot about pulling all-nighters, taking tests and doing keg stands, they don't know as much as they think when it comes to careers.

They don't know if they'll be able to do everything necessary to get a job or if they have what it takes to keep one. They don't know how long the job search will take or if they'll have to relocate for it. They don't know what makes an exciting job or what employers really look for in candidates. The list goes on.

"Even though you may think you learned a lot in college, companies that recruit you and your comrades aren't necessarily interested in what you know right now," says Nicholas Aretakis, author of "No More Ramen: The 20-something's Real World Survival Guide."

"They're interested in what you can learn and what you can contribute. They are interested in your potential."

With the ever evolving job-seeking canvas, nothing is a guarantee. If you arm yourself now with the necessary knowledge to find – and keep – a job your first year out of college, all of the other pieces will fall into place.

Here are 10 "must knows" during your first year after college, according to Aretakis' book.

21 Things Hiring Managers Wish You Knew

  • "Must Know" No. 1: You don't have to respond to an online job posting first

    When you apply to online job boards like, you have to consider what's happening on the hiring side as well, Aretakis says.

    "I guarantee there's no one sitting at a desk on the other side, patiently waiting for responses to the ad," he says. Given this knowledge, getting your response in first is probably not going to make a difference in if you land an interview. Respond within a few days of the listing and you'll be fine.

  • "Must Know" No. 2: Take advantage of the hidden job market

    What is this so-called hidden market? It refers to the jobs you won't find on career sites or newspapers, but through your friends, family and professors, Aretakis says.

    "You have to know your dreams and be able to tell others what you want, what you like, dislike and what you aspire to. If you can articulate this to someone, chances are they or someone they know can help you get there," he says.

  • "Must Know" No. 3: Know what to look for in an employer

    "Yes, you want to be paid well," Aretakis says. "But you also have to consider that this is a place where you'll spend most of your waking hours. Among other things, you want to know that your employer cares about people and has a purpose."

    Aretakis suggests researching such areas as industry, market, diversity, revenues, profits, culture and what people are saying about the company and its image, before applying for a job there.

  • "Must Know" No. 4: Know what to look for in a job

    Most people just starting out all have the same fear: becoming a working stiff. However, most of these people have jobs that are too easy, are just in it for the money or aren't making the most of his or her time.

    "In addition to working for and with good people, you want to find a position where you'll be able to start building a track record," Aretakis says. "Look for a job that you can envision yourself doing for a couple of years. Job stability early in your career is a definite plus."

  • "Must Know" No. 5: Pace yourself

    Like running a marathon, when it comes to starting your career, don't start out in an all-out sprint. It's fine to work hard but make sure maintain a balance, Aretakis says.

    "You will exceed your ambitions if you set a pace that can be maintained. Not too slow that you get complacent, and not too fast that you become overwhelmed, impatient, stressed and burned out," he says.

  • Must Know" No. 6: Time is money

    "Punctuality matters in the workplace and in life, plain and simple," Aretakis says. Think of it this way: If an employer pays four people $50 per hour and one individual is late to a meeting while the others wait, it's at least $200 of wasted pay. Respect other peoples' time and they will respect yours.

  • "Must Know" No. 7: Trust is everything

    Relationships are built on trust, whether it's in your personal life or your work life. For example, if your customers don't think you're giving them your best price, you'll have trouble getting business from them, Aretakis says. Be open and honest with everyone and your relationship will be a tough bond to break.

  • "Must Know" No. 8: Say what you'll do, and do what you say

    There are too many people who provide lip service and commit to actions they don't intend to follow through on, Aretakis says.

    "In an ultracompetitive business environment, you can excuse people for overcommitting themselves once in awhile, provided they made a sincere effort or events beyond their control prevented them from getting the job done."

  • "Must Know" No. 9: Passion yields success

    "Pour your heart into it and strive to find a career that you can be as passionate about as you are about your hobbies," Aretakis says. "Find a field that you genuinely love, where you will actually enjoy learning everything you can. Your success and passion for your chosen field will become infectious."

  • "Must Know" No. 10: You live with the choices you make

    You are the only one who has to live with your choices and each one has consequences, good and bad.

    "If you can figure out how to balance an inspiring career and a lifestyle you'll enjoy, you will be better off than 99 percent of the world's population," Aretakis says. "It's really challenging to find the dream job that is fun, pays well and provides you the freedom and sense of accomplishment everyone wants. Find all four of those elements – enjoyment, money, freedom and accomplishment – in your life, then balance them and that may very well be the definition of happiness."

About the Author: Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.




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