A typical student’s goal with a college degree is to join a company. Yet some graduates lack specific business essentials and life skills crucial to landing solid employment and finding long-term success.
Perhaps they should demand more of themselves while in school, and rather than merely aspire to join a company, actually gain the experience of running one. Learning how to run their own business from the ground up while attending college can give students a leg up.
“When you run your own business, you will learn how to market and sell yourself,” says Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), which provides internships geared to managing a house-painting business. “Those are skills often lacking in college students.”
The extra time spent outside the classroom acquiring experience in the many aspects of business management can pay off in a broader education, which in turn can lead to better employment prospects. Here are some of the benefits Stewart sees for students who run a business while in college:
- Learning to deal with rejection. Rejection will happen early and perhaps often when the college graduate goes to job interviews. Learning how a business owner keeps pushing forward when rejected on sales calls will strengthen the future job aspirant for the rugged world out there. “It’s an eye-opener for many college students who have never been told no before,” Stewart says. “Are you just going to cry because the first person says you’re not qualified for the job?”
- Adding skills to the resume. The tough job market for recent college grads has been a trend since the Great Recession (2007-09). Forty-four percent were underemployed (in jobs not requiring degrees) in the final quarter of 2016, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Thus, a more balanced resume and diverse experience is required to separate the new job seeker from the crowd. “It used to be you just needed a bachelor’s degree and an internship,” Stewart says, “but now you also better have tangible skills and the soft skills – being able to communicate, knowing how to work with others, how to interact. You have to do that when you run a business.”
- Learning time management. Much of the college experience could be used constructively to learn this important life skill, yet many students don’t always use their down time wisely. Being busier with a learn-a-business internship, coupled with a full load of classes, could equate to better time management. “If you’re going to school and running your own business, you have to manage your time well,” Stewart says. “If you’re taking 12 to 15 credit hours in a semester, that’s maybe 30 hours of work each week. You have a ton of hours left, and what are you going to do with that time?”
Before a company invests in college graduates, it looks at the amount of quality time and effort they invested in their future. Learning a business while going to school shows an interest in acquiring the proper mindset.
“The start of a successful career,” Steward says, “is treating college like it’s your job and getting ready for your life after college.”