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Careers for College Students: Should I Focus on Role or Industry?

Careers for College Students: Should I Focus on Role or Industry?

Career posting sites such as those managed by your college or third-party companies like Monster are always asking you the same questions. Some are easy: Where do you want to work? How many years of experience do you have? For some, however, the two fields entitled “Role” and “Industry” on the search form pose more of a conundrum. As a student and soon-to-be grad, what if you’re not sure either way?

The good news is that like most aspects of recruiting, making the right decision comes down to confidence and research. In this post we’ll review the benefits of picking your job with either of these two parameters at the forefront of your decision.

How college students choose their careers by role or industry

The benefits to choosing your industry first

There are many who swear that the industry is the only thing that matters in your decision, primarily because you get the opportunity to build industry knowledge. It’s easy to see why they feel this way. Knowing how your industry has changed over time is essential to innovating and moving it forward. Beyond that, you’ll make your life easier if you stick within a particular industry through the vocabulary you’ll build and the contacts you’ll make.

Another factor is that the industry is what you’ll be immersed in every day. “Think about how difficult it is (or would be) to be constantly thinking about, talking about, planning in, or executing in a world you just don’t care about,” writes Henry Hsu, the general manager of growth and new markets at NerdWallet in a contribution to LinkedIn. “You might be at the most respected data analytics company in the world, for example, but if you don’t have any interest in data analytics, you’re signing up for some pretty long days (regardless of how many hours you work).” In other words, choose an industry for which you have some passion, or you may find yourself quickly becoming bored.

The benefits to choosing your role first

Just to clarify, when we speak of “roles” here we’re not referring to “titles.” Especially for those of you who are recent grads or new to a particular industry, a title matters very little when you balance it with the actual responsibilities listed under it, and thus should not contribute greatly to your decision.

There do exist certain circumstances where the role can be prioritised above the industry. These are usually for anyone who seeks to become a sole practitioner or consultant in a trade someday. For example, if your dream is to delve into the mysteries of SEO and get the skills you need to run your own SEO consultancy in the future, it might not matter where you’re working as you cultivate these skills. Whether you’re researching keywords for website pages having to do with nail salons or B2B technology, you’re still honing your passion on a daily basis.

Other considerations

Let’s fast-forward to when you start to receive your job offers. If you find yourself having to choose among several, consider the company. Are you looking for a startup where you can carve out your own role by taking on more responsibility? Or are you looking for a bigger company with an established and reputable training program and more predictable promotion ladder? Either way, look at the number of employees that already exist within your department. You want to make sure that you’re putting yourself in a position where there are opportunities available for the taking, so make sure you identify any bottlenecks that may get in your way.

The Benefits of Starting with a Startup Company After College

The Benefits of Starting with a Startup Company After College

If the word “startup” conjures visions of ping-pong tables, beer-stocked refrigerators and flip-flop-clad employees, you’re not alone… and you’re often correct! But startups today have evolved past what spawned from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room or Steve Jobs’s garage into a wide range of work environments. The 2008 recession and a tough job market have encouraged many entrepreneurs to get creative in their ideas but disciplined in their methods. It’s important not to write off startups as you begin your job search. In today’s post we’ll delve into some of the many benefits to starting your career with one of these companies.

The benefits of starting your career at a startup company

You can make your own role

As we implied above, the definition of a “startup” is still up for grabs. However there are two consistent elements in the definitions that exist: size and age. Startups are generally younger companies with fewer employees, which can be the perfect environment to test your ambition.

Most businesses that are smaller in size ask employees to “wear many hats,” contributing to tasks and problems that might be outside of their specific job descriptions. Pair this with the ever-evolving nature of a startup as its founders bring focus to their product, and you have an opportunity to write your own starring role. Do you think the business could have a better social media presence? Do you see an opportunity to try out a new platform for internal communication? Is there a different way you can leverage certain tools to analyze data? Then speak up! This often requires extra work for no additional pay while you identify a problem and find a means to solve it, but this can pay off in spades if it causes you to receive a promotion or lead a team in turn. In other words, wear the hats!

You can learn from example

Perhaps one of the most unsung benefits of starting your career with a startup is the transparency into the business side of business. Many of the larger, more established companies expect their employees to find out about company news through quarterly filings, infrequent all-hands meetings or carefully edited emails. On the other side, many startup leaders are candid with their employees about partnership opportunities or potential mergers or acquisitions.

This phenomenon is partly because of the smaller number of people involved and partly due to more frequent dealings on a smaller scale than a nationwide corporation. So if you’ve ever wondered what goes into opening a second office or expanding a product to fit different industries, a startup can be a great place to learn firsthand. And since you’re an employee and not an owner, you can gain the knowledge from these experiences without assuming the risk.

You can use it as a jumping-off point

Some people start a 10-year plan for climbing the corporate ladder as soon as they graduate college, and there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s what you want. Others want to use their first job (or two) as an experiment to see what types of environments and roles they enjoy. For the most part, the nature of the startup forces founders to accept that, as the company or product evolves, so too will the interests and needs of their staff. If you’re seeking room for improvisation and the chance to hone your skills (the same skills desired by the bigger firms, I might add), there’s certainly a place for you in the startup world.