It’s hard to put a number on exactly how many students graduate college every year with zero business experience, but that is likely a majority of them. And that is a shame, given how important understanding the business world is.
Increasing your value
A lot is said about the importance of having experience on top of a college diploma, and that is not surprising. Being a college graduate, even if you come from a prestigious university, is no longer the promise of success it used to be. College courses are made to meet the demands of students, not those of the job market. This leads to too many students graduating into crowded markets, while some employees have a hard time finding talented people with less-popular qualifications.
On top of that, the market has been creating various important job positions that still haven’t been made part of the college system. Few universities offer courses on digital marketing, for example. And students are rarely taught how to navigate the ever-growing gig economy, which now employs thousands of college graduates full-time.
If you want your name to stand out on a pile of résumés, you’ll need some experience you can flaunt in front of potential employers. Experience shows that you can offer more than just meeting the minimum requirements of a job.
Ideally, you should aim a step higher — to be so good and accomplish so much that you’ll have job offers waiting for you when you graduate. Be the one being chased by opportunities, rather than the one chasing them.
Start your own business
There are many reasons why starting a business in college is a great idea. One of them is simply notoriety. If you can start a business in a field related to what you’re studying, you’ll gain access to other professionals and important people in the field. Your chance of being spotted and deemed valuable by one company or other increases, which helps your odds of securing a job after graduation.
The other reason is the vast amount of knowledge you can gain. There is value to discussing money and capitalism in classrooms and essays, but you only get a real feeling of how this system works when it’s your money you’re spending. When you are the one deciding who to hire and who to fire, where to invest and where to let problems linger because you don’t have the time, energy, or resources needed to fix it right now.
You will find many other examples of challenges that business owners had never heard about until they started a new venture. Hands-on experience will teach you how to deal with all sorts of problems, from HR inadequacies to governmental regulations. This is exactly what Rob Oates, managing director of a consultancy called Arbtech in the UK did. After noticing how difficult the job situation was after leaving university, he formed the company and it is still going strong 15 years later.
The value of all this experience can’t be overstated. If you get a chance to gain some hands-on business experience during your college education, you should embrace it. And if a chance doesn’t present itself, you should try to create one on your own.