Ryan Kahn, career coach for Dream Careers and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, prepares college graduates for the real world on “Hired,” an MTV reality show that helps new graduates snag their dream job. Kahn, who received an undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and a graduate degree in music business from UCLA, spoke with The Aggie to answer the questions on every upperclassman’s mind.
The Aggie: What are students most concerned about when trying to find jobs?
Kahn: The biggest concern is not actually having a job – sending out applications with no response. You’ll be more successful if you focus on the positions you do have experience in and start honing in on those. Pick the companies you’re really a fit for. Do whatever you can to meet people in that company, even if that means sitting and having coffee across the street every single day. Even use Facebook and Twitter; re-tweet things they say and post comments on their Facebook wall. This keeps your name in their face, and eventually they’ll start to notice you.
How do you recommend getting enough experience?
Internships! Personal relationships through work experience and internships are important. Build as many relationships as possible and take advantage of social media. Friends help friends get jobs; for every friend you have on Facebook, that’s one more opportunity to build another relationship.
How long before students graduate should they begin applying for jobs?
Ideally, you start looking into spring internships; right now is a good time to start applying. If a job opportunity happens to pop up, you could be in the right place at the right time.
How does one stand out among job applicants?
Have an interesting story. Being able to say you went to school makes you one of the many. Have an interesting story in your career. Internships and studying abroad make you stand out.
What are some tips for a stand-out résumé?
There are a lot of misconceptions about flashy paper, but that doesn’t make you look very professional. Use a basic template, because your work experience is what will make you stand out. Always save your résumé as a PDF because formatting could get lost in other programs. Don’t ever write “references upon request.” If they’re interested, they’ll call and ask for references. Don’t include the months on past employers; this will make them focus on experience, not dates.
What are some things that should never be on a résumé?
Again, “references upon request,” it’s just a waste of valuable space. Don’t put your reasons for leaving a company and don’t put months of employment, especially if it was a short amount of time. Stick to years. Also, be careful about what e-mail address you use. If you don’t already have a professional one, stick to first name, last name.
What are some good interviewing tips?
Show up 30 minutes early, park and relax. Call a friend or family member and give yourself some time to relax. Walk in, casually, 10 minutes early. And research the interviewer’s online presence. Look for some common points to bring up during the interview.
What are some things you should never do in an interview?
Never chew gum. Grab a mint instead, right before you go in if you’re worried about your breath. Study up on the company’s culture as well. What do the employees wear? You want to walk in and fit the mold. You should also always be conservatively dressed. Never under- or over-dress.
Any last advice for our graduating seniors?
Network is net worth. Do everything that you can to build up social media presence and relationships.
What’s it like to be on MTV?
Awesome. MTV is a great network. I grew up watching hours of MTV. It’s been a great experience and they take great care of me. I’m very proud to be a part of the network.
Have you had any exciting celebrity encounters?
I was in school, looking to break into the business, and I met Randy Jackson from American Idol. He was my professor [for a music business class], and he called me his “dawg.” It was really cool because even though he was busy, he took the time to come to class every day. Literally, one day he was in Chicago on Oprah and he arranged his flights so he could still be in class that day.
MICHELLE STAUFFER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.