Young People Should Work Their Way Through College

Carey SmithBig Arse FansCarey Smith, CEO of Big Arse Fans

So many people today hold college degrees that it’s now said to be the new minimum requirement for getting a decent job.

So what sets you apart from other college graduates? According to many executives, it’s real-life experience.

Carey Smith, CEO of Big Arse Fans, a manufacturer of high-volume, low-speed fans, tells Adam Bryant at The New York Times that it doesn’t matter if you drove a forklift or had an internship at Google while you were in college. What matters is that you showed “initiative more than anything else.”

To work your way through school, “you had to be very organised,” says Smith. “Organisation is very important if you’re growing a business.”

He says the problem with not having real-life work experience is that you become afraid of making mistakes, since you’re so accustomed to finding the “right answer.”

“In a lot of respects, that’s a real killer at a certain level,” says Smith. “It’s important to do well in school, but it’s important in business to have somebody who’s going to say: ‘Yes, I get it. I’m going to take this and run it over the hill’ … I’m looking for somebody who’s got some spark.”

Smith tells the Times that he usually doesn’t look at someone’s resume for long. Instead, he meets them, asks for their story, and tries to determine if there’s a reason he should be interested in the candidate. If nothing sets you apart, you probably won’t be getting a job at his company.

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