Every Friday noontime, our Ambassador team offers peer-to-peer drop-ins to offer students advice or aid in their journey throughout university. A proactive first-year student walked in and asked me, “What can I do to stand out in university?” She had read up on my profile and knew about the things I was involved in throughout my time at Telfer. I was incredibly surprised by her preparation and research.
This question has stuck in my mind. Standing out was never what I thought about when I participated and became involved in everything I was a part of during these past four years. After some deliberation, I have created a short piece on potential ways to differentiate yourself in the big crowd of Telfer students.
1) Don’t chase your resumé. Chase your passions.
This is a big one. People often just chase the next thing that will make their resumé look better. Firstly, recruiters barely look at your resumé; only HR recruiters pay more attention to that. Secondly, it is incredibly obvious when you don’t emulate the things on your CV. When you chase your passions, that is when your CV tells a clearer story of who you are as a person. That gives you an edge over thousands of students who aimlessly search for additional ‘work experiences’.
We just finished our applications for the next year of executives for the Women in Management Network. Within seconds of the “tell me about yourself” question, those who were passionate individuals, and were self-aware of what they were looking for, stood out and became successful candidates. Others, even despite extensive resumés, clearly were by the book and were unable to provide me with a clear picture of who they were as a person. Your resumé and grades might get you the interview, but your passions and your story will get you the job.
2) Don’t stick to what you know. Explore.
Though vague, this touches upon the aspect of being by the book. Our school offers an extensive list of resources and services; however, there’s even more at the tips of our fingers in the city of Ottawa. In addition to number 1, find those events that add to the story you want to be telling. Don’t know what story you want to be telling? I know many students are still struggling to determine what field or industry they want to work in, even in their fourth year. I strongly believe that experience plays a big role in this. They haven’t had enough connections with seasoned professionals, delved into that world, tasted the needs and demands of their field beyond their classroom. Cultivating a growth mindset plays a big role within this. Our classes take up much of our time as a student; however, a consistently curious person will always be proactively searching for their next experience. Even if you’re not the best or enjoy that certain topic, don’t be afraid to keep learning in order to strengthen areas of weakness. Learning plays a big role into determining your passions and what you’d like to add to your ‘story’. Someone coined an interesting word on a TED talk: multipotentialite: a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.
I think that’s the case for many of us in our university careers - we’re becoming good at so many things and interested in many topics, but we aren’t even realizing it because of the one-track setup our educational institutions put us in. Thus, it propels us into a one-track career.
Hence, going back to the “how do I stand out” topic, regularly nurture your growth mindset to be aware of current situations and build your roadmap of what you would like to learn more about outside of the context of your degree. You’re studying in finance, but you are passionate about graphic design? Nurture that side. Marketing student with a weird knack for marine biology? Don’t be afraid to explore and connect with people in that field. It’s the quirky things and curiosity that makes you stand out.
3) Build your tribe.
On top of all the things mentioned above, build up your network of peers and professionals that have similar values and aspirations to you. They will be your support network, mentors, sponsors, friends, and aspiration marks. Every entrepreneur likes using this term of ‘tribe’. By exploring what you are passionate about, want to strive to be, and then connecting to those who are currently living that life out, you are providing yourself with living examples of who you could be.
Eliminate the negative relationships in your life along with ones that do not serve you. Instead, scope out for people with growth mindsets that set you on the path for more. Make room for the inspirational people in life. Even in your hardest times, there’s a network, group, tribe of people who give and give back. Take time to nurture those connections.