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It may seem odd to offer advice about finding a job on the same day that the new cohort of students start to arrive on campus, but that is what this post is about.

Business student are supposed to learn the importance of “competitive advantage. Studying real estate is one way to distinguish yourself from the vast majority of business students.

Branding is a way to appear to be distinct and, many first year students learn about branding by thinking about branding means for a person. The issues are the same:

  • What value do you offer to a customer?
  • How do you present that information to attract a paying customer (e.g. employer)? What is your marketing campaign?
  • What do you offer relative to the competition (e.g. your classmates here or elsewhere who are reading the same textbooks)? What is your “USP”?
  • How do you write an effective advertisement (e.g. cover letter and resume)? Beware of words that have been overused to the point of being worthless.

Textbooks are sort of old fashioned (they are books!) and may need some updating. With that in mind, a recent podcast from CBC’s marketing guy offers some specific lessons for the Facebook/Twitter generation. In many ways, the lessons are the same as when I was an undergraduate student. The differences involve the level of interactivity: employers do not need to rely on a resume to learn about you, since Google can reveal a lot that you might make you less attractive or your resume less convincing.

My one bit of advice here is to remember the reason to come to university. Part of the value that we offer is knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge comes from lectures. Sometimes, that knowledge comes from solving problems based on those lectures.

The learning which distinguishes students comes in other forms. Sometimes, that knowledge comes from solving assignments with problems that you never considered before. Sometimes, that knowledge comes from activities outside of any class. Taking advantage of these opportunities.

So, the Rules of Business change even as they are basically the same as when I was an undergraduate.

After four years, you will not recognize the you of today. That is what makes university exciting. Good luck with the new school year.