The sub theme for this blog is why you will not get a job if you follow what you learned in school. I know that statement may upset some people, but consider this thought: Schools like to teach you to not stand out. Don’t take chances. Teachers teach to students in the middle. There is no way that they can teach students at all levels. Thus, students at the low and high ends often receive less guidance.
But, it’s not just about academic excellence.
It is about taking chances doing something remarkable. The trend in education is group learning. Group learning is about conforming to the group. Doing something remarkable, something innovative, does not fit into the mold of most schooling. Again, don’t confuse the concept of remarkable with “doing well” or even “excelling”. Schools certainly encourage those skills. But that is not the type of skill needed to get a job in the current job market.
My second full time actuary I hired is Terence Chow. I met Terence when he was a student of mine while I was an Adjunct professor at Drake. Terence stuck out to me because he was better than the rest of the students. He wasn’t just a little bit better, but noticeably better. I found out after I hired Terence that his nickname from his peers is Genius. Standing out in a genius manner is not something everyone can achieve. Many don’t have the ability to get to that level (I know I don’t!). But, if you have the capacity to achieve that elite level, you can stand out by just being significantly smarter than other students.
What are other ways that you can stand out? Do you participate in discussion forums? I recently hired on-contract an actuarial student who had taken the initiative to review our study manual and wrote a review of the study manual. Then the student posted it on a discussion forum. This person was very active writing about other key topics on the forum. That type of initiative caught my attention as an employer as someone I wanted to be on our team.
I hired one student as an intern primarily because of a video he had created with other students. Sure, he had good credentials to back it up. However, I was looking for video assistance as a complement of actuarial help. Other students have been leaders at important positions of local actuarial clubs. Something simple like writing a hand written thank you letter after an interview will stick out to the interviewer who only receives e-mail thank yous.
Think about your strengths. Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have something special to offer. You do. But, you need to package it, frame it, in such a way that it gets noticed in a busy and crowded market place. Every person I mentioned chose options to stand out based upon their strength, not by a gimmick.
Do you have a story to share on how you have stood out from a crowd and got noticed?