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So many people when asked what they want to do after they graduate say something like “I would like a job in marketing where I can apply what I learned in school” or something equally aspirational.

It is natural to want to make use of the knowledge gained in your area of expertise. You spend many years learning many subjects that cover your chosen academic path and want to try them out in the real world.

But I’ve  said it before and it bears repeating: what you learn at school is merely the table stakes for a successful career; it guarantees nothing. That said, without some type of formal learning background and you are unlikely to be able to enter the race.

There are many highly educated people out there who can’t get a job in the profession or company they desire — how many Uber drivers have you met with economics degrees, or bar servers with law degrees fro a foreign country? They are unable to follow their chosen career path and must settle for an occupation that pays the bills.

To be successful you have to do MORE than “apply your knowledge”. When everyone else is trying to do the same thing, how will this approach get you noticed; how will it enable you to standout from the crowd?

It won’t.

You have to LEVERAGE what you know to position yourself for career opportunities.

You must look behind the schooling brand you have earned to discover the qualities you possess that enables you to apply what you’ve learned in a way that is both relevant to the organization you are interested in, and unique in the crowd of applicants being considered along with you.

So If you have an MBA you will want to position yourself NOT as an MBA’er but, for example, as someone who is able to help take an organization where it needs to go.

Your academic credentials allow you to have insights on business problems. You are a business problem solver first; MBA second or third or fourth or…

The point is, lead with what unique value that you and only you can deliver; not with your academic pedigree.

Learn what an organization NEEDS to meet its strategic goals; work on objectives and tactics that line up with the desired future and be prepared to give 110% of yourself to execution if you are the successful candidate for the job.

In answer to the question about what you want to do after you have finished school, I would like to hear: “After I graduate I intend to be the only marketing manager in the company I choose to work for that is viewed by others as a senior employee within 24 months.”

Declare your end game.

Pledge to be unique.

Trust that WHAT you know is only an aid to help get you there.  

Written By
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead. You can also read more of Roy Osing's articles at his website.

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