An Open Letter to College Graduates from the EDGE Chair

Graduation means it is time to begin building that network to land the job of your dreams.

Michael Marion
2015 Metro EDGE Program Chair
Drexel University Sacramento Executive Director

and Associate Vice Provost

MikeMThousands of Sacramento-area college graduates just like you will walk the stage this June, earning a degree after years of hard work, marathon study sessions and countless nights writing papers before they are due the next morning.

Now, it’s time to find that job you went to school for in the first place. Only, the work is now really just beginning.

It is critical to not allow yourself to become another résumé on the desk. Making an impression with the company you want to work for won’t come by relying on a white piece of paper. Face-to-face meetings leave lasting impressions, so stop hoping a few sentences on a single sheet will do that for you.

It is time to network.

I know what you are saying, “but Michael, I’m already networking.”

But ask yourself this, “Are you networking efficiently?”

Just going to an event with a name tag is a nice first step, but now let’s own that next mixer or cocktail hour.

If you know a certain representative from a company is going to be attending, don’t start by simply saying your name. Be unique. Stand out. When making that introduction, mention something specific about the company or topic in the news that may impact their business. Try “Hello, my name is Michael, I noticed your company has expanded to Roseville” or “How is the new plastic bag ban going to impact your company?” are a couple of examples.

Once you have made a strong introduction, don’t feel the need to rattle off your résumé. Use the time to learn about the person you are speaking with by asking a lot of questions. This will show you are genuinely interested and if you do land an interview, you will come to the interview armed with more than other candidates.

Now you are probably asking, “Michael, how do I meet these executives or managers to even have this conversation?”

I’ve got you covered there, too.

Here at Metro Edge, one of our key initiatives is to ensure our members are progressing in their careers and fulfilling their goals. We host an Executive Edge event which offers one such way to meet with top executives in the region. At the event, you can speak directly with top executives in a variety of industries, with a real chance to stand out among your competition.

These are not the only options to get noticed by a potential employer. At Drexel University, I tell our students if you can’t meet the executive, meet someone else in the company who can recommend you. Employers often turn to current employees for advice and/or suggestions of anyone they know who will be a good fit for the company.

Meeting and impressing someone not in management may be a great alternative to ultimately getting a meeting with the boss.

Lastly, if you don’t know who to talk to. Ask. There are plenty of young professionals who have been through what you are going through now. They too once walked that stage and earned their degree from Drexel, Sac State or UC Davis, and were left wondering “what now?” Through Metro Edge or an alumni association, odds are pretty high someone will know someone who is looking for a candidate like you.

Don’t bet that employer will pluck your résumé among a stack of other highly qualified candidates. Make sure you will be a face they will remember and possibly even consider before the interviews even begin. Your networking starts today. It is the best way to ensure you land that job.

- Michael W. Marion, executive director and associate vice provost of Drexel University Sacramento, is the 2015 Metro Edge Chair.