In my last post I introduced the concept of a success factor as an important component as to how students can differentiate themselves in today's hyper-competitive and ever changing global marketplace. I also provided a few examples of success factors generated from participating in an off-campus program.
In this post, however, I will shift my attention away from what a success factor is to how students can create one. Learning how to translate their off-campus experience into a success factor is a critical component of marketing their value to the marketplace. As mentioned several times throughout this series, college students and graduates need to recognize that marketing their value is a vital step towards launching their career in today’s challenging global recession.
To properly use an off-campus program as a success factor, students should consider the following format:
Step 1: The Paragraph
Write a paragraph about the experience. Try to limit this to no more than 75 words. If nothing else, I have found that a word limit is helpful since some students are apt to write too few words while others are likely to write several paragraphs worth when all that is needed is one solid paragraph that outlines what the student learned and how they learned it.
Step 2: The Sentence
Using the paragraph of 75 words or less, now reduce it to one sentence. Make sure this sentence does three things:
- identifies the location of the off-campus program
- mentions what you accomplished
- summarizes the how you did what you did
Step 3: The Support
Once the sentence is polished make a list of three to five bullet points that support the one sentence success factor. Once again, students should refer to the paragraph for insight and thoughts as to how to approach this last part. Students can then place the bullet points in their resume as well as cover letter to further substantiate their learning experience.
Below is an example of this process:
The Paragraph (74 word summary) - I wanted to challenged myself in college so I spent the spring semester of my junior year in Australia where I studied marine biology. I worked with other students from around the world and local marine biologists taught us a wide variety of lessons regarding the Australian ecosystem and environment. The experience really challenged me to think critically and also helped me to work on my collaboration skills since there were many group projects.
The Sentence (Success Factor) - Enhanced my critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills while working with marine biologists and other specialists during a semester abroad in Australia where we studied indigenous ecosystems and environmental issues.
The Support (Bullet Points supporting the success factor)
- Researched the impact of bleaching, sedimentation and disease on coral.
- Worked on coral demography to better understand development of population models for colonial organisms.
- Analyzes various factors contributing to the disturbance of coral reefs.
Note: The ABCs of Marketing Yourself is now available as an e-book. Click here for more information.
"Discover Your Value (DYV)" is a 14-part blog series that helps individuals learn how to communicate their value to others with an emphasis on their international experience. Michael Edmondson, Ph.D., is the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for The Philadelphia Center. He and Peter Abramo, Ph.D., are the authors of The ABCs of Marketing Yourself: A Workbook for College Students, upon which this series of blog posts is based. You can follow Michael on Twitter at @ThinkActGrow.