Light the Spark
By Cindy Miller, director, Columbia College-Kansas City
As you take classes here at Columbia College to learn everything there is to know about the subject matter you have chosen for your degree, be sure to give some thought to one particular “soft skill” that is rapidly gaining popularity among hiring managers: Creativity.
While this skill may not be taught specifically in your classes, it is actually a characteristic highly prized by future employers. Not accepting new ideas in the workplace is dangerous – you have seen how quickly technology is changing the world and your ability to embrace it will put you on the short list for that next job. Though analytical skills are prized by employers, qualities like inventiveness, flexibility, and creativity are becoming more critical in the business environment.
Consider some of the folks who refused to acknowledge the creative spark in the past:
Lord Kelvin of the Royal Society claimed in 1895 that “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” Just eight years later, Orville and Wilbur Wright had their first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk. An internal memo at Western Union in 1876 postulated, “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication,” which was the same year that Alexander Graham Bell’s device debuted.
More recently, a Yale University management professor made this comment in grading a paper by Fred Smith: “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’ the idea must be feasible.” Mr. Smith later founded Federal Express. Moreover, in the early 2000’s, Blockbuster Video turned down an opportunity to buy the fledging Netflix, indicating that they were a “very small niche business.” Blockbuster, of course, ended up bankrupt in 2010 and Netflix was worth $13 billion at the time.
Change will happen whether you like it or not, and if you initiate the change through your own creativity, you not only have more control over the process, but also have the tools to truly make a difference in your work world and beyond! Creativity involves two processes – imagination and innovation. You must learn to engage in both of these activities and be able to move back and forth between them. You can begin practicing right here at Columbia College.
Not convinced yet? Keep the following numbers in mind…
Adobe Systems Incorporated collected data in an online survey in 2014 called “Seeking Creative Candidates: Hiring for the Future”. They discovered that one of the top three skills most essential for new hires to possess is creativity (78%). Managers indicated that creative skills were preferred over conventional skills by more than 5 to 1, and 82% seek well-rounded candidates who can creatively apply core skills to business issues.
Bottom line, get those creative juices flowing! Avoid falling into mental traps that stifle your creativity. Have fun, don’t be afraid of failure, try something new and different, and be free to be impractical. You can start right now exercising your mental muscles by trying new approaches to old problems in your Columbia College classes. Be bold!
Tailor your résumé to the job you want, not the job you’ve done
Résumé-writing is probably not at the top of the priority list for the average college student, and even less so for those transitioning to a new career. And because of that, Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center Dan Gomez-Palacio has some news that might be surprising: Résumé-writers, you might be doing it all wrong.
A lot of people view their résumé as a laundry list of all the jobs they’ve held, and the description of what those jobs entailed. Yet Gomez-Palacio reveals a dirty little secret of many hiring managers.
“The person screening résumés doesn’t care about the nitty-gritty details of your day-to-day job; they’re needing to see from your résumé that you’re ready to take the next step,” he says.
Gomez-Palacio gave an example of a former Columbia College student who had previously worked as the manager of a fast-food restaurant and had returned to school to seek a career in human resources. Through his résumé, he was able to show his prospective employer exactly what they were looking for.
“You wouldn’t immediately associate fast food and HR, but he was responsible for hiring and firing employees and making sure they filled out the proper paperwork,” Gomez-Palacio said. “Even though HR wasn’t anywhere close to the vast majority of his day – of course, he was making sure the lines were moving and the restaurant was clean – he was able to highlight, in a few different ways, the HR-specific roles, so that it looked like an HR résumé. Any HR-hiring manager would have no choice but to look at it and say, ‘Well I never would have thought about it this way, but they’re absolutely qualified.’”
When your résumé is simply a restatement of your job description, Gomez-Palacio says, it puts the onus on the hiring manager to make the relevant connections between their job and your ability to do it, and that’s not the hiring manager’s main focus. It’s your responsibility to walk the reader through your experience and show why you have the right tools to help their organization.
“Résumés are read top-down, and if I have a stack of 50 of them on my desk as a hiring manager, I’m looking for a reason not to hire you so that I can move onto the next one and get through this stack,” says Gomez-Palacio. Because of that, the career services staff works on résumé placement and the order things appear.
“The quicker I can see something to find a reason to toss you aside, the better. ‘This one doesn’t have enough work experience… this one doesn’t know the software package.’ So we constantly have to keep the hirer’s attention. Sometimes that means highlighting qualifications, sometimes we put the education first, sometimes the work experience.”
Another example came from a student who, among her job experience, worked as a waitress at a biker bar. There’s probably not much from that job that can shine through on a résumé for an event-planning job… unless the waitress had volunteer experience organizing a major biker rally run by the bar, which the waitress did flawlessly.
Gomez-Palacio says that over 95 percent of candidates have some sort of relevant experience, and many of them grossly under-sell their talents. Even a trash collector has experience valuable to a hiring manager.
“If you’ve collected trash in the summer heat and winter cold of Missouri, there’s nothing that I can throw at you that you’re not going to be able to handle. There’s always something tangible or intangible that can showcase what you can bring to an organization,” he says.
Ultimately, says Gomez-Palacio, it’s not about having the résumé, or having the right skills; it’s about selling yourself. The résumé is simply the mechanism to do just that.
Paying down interest
by Department of Student Success and Money Stacks
Making payments on your student loans while still enrolled in school might seem like a daunting task. Many questions may come to mind like, “How can I afford this?”, “Will it really save me money?”, and “Where do I even begin?” With practical budgeting and a knowledge of how student loans work, making small interest payments while you are still in school can set you up for greater financial success after graduation. Let’s tackle these common questions and help get you on the path to success with your student loans.
How Can I Afford This?
This is a common concern for many students. The answer really starts with budgeting. Trying to find an extra couple of dollars in your budget – even $10 or $20 per month – can start to make a dent in your student-loan interest. We suggest looking at your non-essential expenses, like your morning coffee or your weekly lunch date. If you are able to cut those expenses down to once or twice a month, instead of weekly, you are saving enough to start having an impact on your accruing interest. One small change per week can add up to major savings over the life of your loans.
Will it Really Save Me Money?
Yes! Even paying just $20 per month while in school can help lower the lifetime repayment cost of your loan. Over the course of four years, you could be saving $960 in interest charges from paying just $20 per month or $240 per year. Interest also capitalizes, so not only have you saved nearly a $1,000 in interest charges, but you have prevented interest from capitalizing off what you have already paid down.
Where do I Even Begin?
The first step is to find out who your loan servicer is and set up your account. You can do this by logging onto your studentloans.gov account and locating your servicer that is listed on the homepage. You can then contact your servicer and ask that they set up your account. Typically this is done after graduation, when students enter repayment. Once your account is set up, you can start making payments towards your loans. It is important for you to know that you are not obligated to make payments while you are still enrolled. So if you make just one payment towards your loans, you are not obligated to make another, until you enter repayment after graduation.
If you have any questions or want some advice navigating your loans, you can contact the Department of Student Success by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historial Periodicals Now Available at Stafford Library
by Stafford Library
Columbia College’s Stafford Library is pleased to offer access to the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection. This resource documents the lives of American people, their history and culture, from the Colonial Era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Digitized images of pages of U.S. magazines and journals published between 1684 and 1912 provide detailed content on many topics, including advertising, health, women’s issues, science, the history of slavery, industry and professions, religious issues, culture and the arts, and more. This digital collection was produced by a partnership between EBSCO and the American Antiquarian Society (AAS).
In the easy-to-use EBSCOhost format, you can find both primary and historical resources from many rare and unique magazine titles. All the documents are full text and the digital images allow you to see articles from centuries past. This collection provides access to thousands of resources previously inaccessible to the general public. Whether you need primary sources for a research project or are curious about American life in the past, enter a topic in the search box and take an eye-opening step back in time!
Have questions about the collection? You can contact the library staff for help by calling (573) 875-7381 or (800) 231-2391 ext. 7381, by emailing email@example.com, texting (573) 535-5449 or sending a chat by clicking on the chat link on the library’s website at library.ccis.edu.
Why LinkedIn Matters
By Dan Gomez-Palacio, Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
In the Grossnickle Career Services Center, we often talk to students and alumni looking for ways to get ahead in their chosen career field. No matter the area of interest, we recommend LinkedIn. Now in its
16th year, LinkedIn is generally known but often not used to its full potential.
LinkedIn directly connects users to professional —or aspiring professional — profiles. While many use LinkedIn as a passive instrument, the site can quickly expand a professional network and provide useful industry insight.
LinkedIn is not like other social media platforms. On other sites, users may be hesitant to connect with casual acquaintances or fellow conference attendees. That’s exactly what LinkedIn is for, and we encourage users to be aggressive in developing new contacts.
Since LinkedIn profiles focus on professional experience, users don’t need to doubt whether or not it is appropriate to reach out. Consider LinkedIn a digital business card. By expanding this network, users can gain insight about an industry and make personal connections into a particular organization, which may result in qualified references during that important next step to landing a job.
Our team often logs in to LinkedIn to research specific industries and career pathways. It is enlightening to find people in similar careers and see real-life examples of the experience and education needed to break into a field. By looking at the profiles of people in different roles, it shows what it takes to possibly get there, such as graduate degrees or entry-level positions.
Additionally, it can be a great tool to find out more about an organization. How does the company market itself on LinkedIn? What articles does it share? Does the page show the office culture? Obviously not all organizations are active on LinkedIn, but for those that are, it can provide an enhanced perspective beyond a company’s website.
When creating a profile, users will automatically be placed in the alumni network of their higher education institution. More than 37,000 alumni, students and employees are listed on the Columbia College LinkedIn page.
This network can be utilized to find professionals who are often more than happy to give advice to a fellow Cougar.
Industry-focused groups and discussion forums are available on LinkedIn. For example, those interested in a career in Human Resources can join Society for Human Resource Management or a group dedicated to corporate recruitment. LinkedIn will even suggest user groups based on profile details. Additionally, follow key “influencers” for unique industry insight.