While college graduates collectively celebrate the end of their educational journey, there remains a looming uncertainty in the back of many minds: How am I going to get a job with no work experience? One source of work experience that has no prerequisites is entrepreneurship.
Not only are only 43% of full-time undergraduate students employed, a surprising 41% of graduate students are underemployed. This shows us that not only will many college students miss out on professional work experience by graduation, but the students that do graduate will work jobs that don’t even require a college degree.
It is understandable how this could lead to anxiety and fear in many students’ minds. Many jobs expect applicants to have years of experience even if the position is entry-level. Many full-time students don’t have the time or energy to commit to a job while in school. Entrepreneurship provides a solution by providing real work experience and being a great time investment for a college student.
With schools and programs promising a sense of security in even the most volatile job markets, many students have found that it takes anywhere between three to six months to secure employment after graduation. It is a scary situation for a graduate leaving school with thousands in debt and no reliable income to help pay off their loans and provide for themselves.
There are options that can help tackle some of the hurdles a graduate may run into. By becoming an entrepreneur in college, it’s possible to use this advantage to get a job with no experience.
Entrepreneurship teaches numerous skills and the possibility of extra income and real work experience help make this a lucrative path. These skills not only help fill a resume with relevant experience but also prepare students for challenges they may encounter in their industry.
While entrepreneurship has many lessons to teach, there are a select few that translate into numerous industries that graduates will be entering. The most lucrative skills employers look for are:
- Management Skills
- Communication Skills
- Financial Skills
- Problem Solving Skills
- Time Management Skills
- Networking Skills
This arsenal of soft skills and techniques will help make a college student appear like a seasoned professional. The possible income a student could gain that would help pad their pockets during their after-graduation job search. It’s not only important to have relevant skills but to understand why they are important and how they can be used to convince employers of your capabilities.
Multi-award-winning actress Helen Hayes once said, “The expert at anything was once a beginner.” This rings true for all industries and professions, especially so in the professional world. It is very uncommon for someone with novice experience to be placed in the position of an expert, as the expert is compensated far greater for their skills and knowledge.
What if we could skip past the novice stage and jump straight into a more respected and higher-earning position? After all, who wouldn’t be anxious to make above-average earnings after investing heavily in their education?
This can be a viable path for someone with experience managing and leading a team or product, which is one of the core fundamentals of being an entrepreneur. Being able to manage and lead an organization is what separates great entrepreneurs from the crowd.
Throughout history, those who could lead were recouped graciously for their abilities. George Washington proved his leadership as a general to position himself to become the President of the United States. He was able to take charge and lead through thick and thin is a skill desired by employers worldwide.
Most businesses are built around a Classic Organizational Structure, which is a top-down hierarchy where individuals have direct authority over those below them. For example, a Chief Financial Officer has direct authority over an Investment Associate and a Financial Analyst. As compensation for taking on this responsibility, the CFO is paid much more than those below them. This is what drives the competitive nature of business. Those at the top make more than those at the bottom.
The problem for college graduates they have to start from the very bottom of the hierarchy. On average, it can take three to five years to reach a position that pays six figures. It’s in their best interest to reach a position with a higher salary.
Let’s take this problem and convey it in a more relatable way. In this example, you have two friends asking to borrow your car during the same weekend.
This car was paid for by your hard-earned money and you heavily depend on it for transportation. Friend A has been driving for the past two years and has never been in an accident. Friend B has just gotten his driving permit and has been practicing the past few months. Which friend would you lend the car to?
Friend A has shown that not only can he drive a car, but he can also drive safely. It is too risky to trust your investment to Friend B. Even though he can legally drive, he has less experience and can’t guarantee that he won’t cause damage to the car.
This is how the job market works as well. Employers need to be able to trust that an applicant can not only handle the responsibilities of the position but also do it correctly and effectively. Who you trust with your resources can make or break boundless opportunities for your entrepreneurship business.
There’s a lot of risks involved with hiring a fresh college graduate, as many don’t have the job experience to prove they can do the job correctly. This is why it is normal for graduates to enter the market at the bottom of the hierarchy, as entry-level positions have less risk to the organization’s health. Most graduates enter the market in positions that don’t even require a degree, which starts them out lower in the hierarchy than normal.
As with most things in the professional world, nothing is guaranteed for anyone. However, it’s possible to increase the chances of getting an extra boost up the ladder if the employer can trust you with the responsibilities of a higher-earning position. This is where the management skills learned by running a business come in.
Experience is the best teacher, and it’s hard to get real work experience in a classroom environment. The opportunity to start a small company and get that experience in a less competitive environment on your terms shouldn’t be overlooked.
You will experience things most other students wouldn’t just by being an entrepreneur in college. Not only do you prove you can handle the responsibility of running a business, but you also show the courage to be a leader and manage operations.
When it comes to the work environment, most professionals don’t realize that communication skills are what makes and breaks a productive day. If an email is unclear or a meeting ends with a convoluted solution, mistakes can be made and hurt the ability to complete work correctly. One assumption about entrepreneurship is that it is a one-man show, where only the founder is the one pulling strings and making things happen. This can’t be farther from the truth.
In reality, the founder must be able to communicate and work with others to help build the business. From emails, content marketing, social media, brainstorming, and more, the way an entrepreneur communicates will greatly impact their success.
The same can be said for the workplace. Employers want workers that can actively listen to the information presented, and communicate between team and departments to help accomplish a common goal. A worker can be the best back-end developer in the company, but if they can’t communicate with the front-end development team then the end product could be an uncoordinated failure, even if they completed their part of the project right.
When creating a product or running a business, having empathy with your customers is crucial to success. Businesses solve problems, so it’s hard to give a solution if you don’t understand a customer’s needs and wants. Surprisingly, customers are very vocal about their desires, even if they’re not always transparent about it.
Being able to tap into the underlying meaning of what customers want will help build a strong sense of active listening. There are studies that show that individuals who use active listening are perceived to be more socially attractive and confident than those who use simple advice or acknowledgments.
Being able to listen is one side of the coin, since the way we communicate information can make all the difference in the hiring process. One of the most intimidating parts of applying to a job is the interview process. Many people find themselves searching for interview scripts and filling a notebook with lines to say during the interview.
Forced preparation like those examples can backfire. It’s easy for even normal people to tell when someone is genuine or reading off of a script. Also, it’s fine to get by an interview, but it pays off immensely to impress during an interview.
Are you able to sell yourself? Are you able to tell your story and create an emotional response in the listener? Can you condense a large amount of information into a brief but engaging summary that’s easy to understand? These are communication skills that entrepreneurs deploy while running their businesses.
The best aspects of these skills are that they are universally reliable and translate well into an interview environment. Being able to impress the interviewer with an engaging and clear conversation about why they should hire a young entrepreneur is a surefire way to get put on the top of the pile.
Imagine if you had to play the role of Google for a day. Whenever someone around you needed to figure something out or wasn’t sure about something, they came to you for the answers.
By the end of the day, you would be exhausted and probably slightly irritated. What if you were offered $500 a day instead? Sounds like it’s worth it then, right?
Running your own company is a pretty similar situation to this. When even creating your own business, you have to solve the hardest question first. How does my business solve a problem? Once this is answered, from that point forward you will be faced with a barrage of more questions that are just as open-ended as the first one.
On top of that, if you have a team of workers or investors under you, be prepared for even more abstract questions that you can’t just search up the answer to.
Entrepreneurs have to be able to understand, analyze, and deconstruct a problem to find a solution to it. If an unsolved problem is an unclearable obstacle, the whole business will come to a halt. Even when the right decision isn’t clear, a decision still has to be made. Similar to what we mentioned before, high-earning positions come with more responsibilities.
One of the most important of these is the capability to solve problems and make decisions. A Chief Financial Officer has to be able to decide on where the company’s funds should be allocated. When you’re running your own business, you are the CEO, CFO, CMO, and all the workers combined. You’ll be making critical decisions from all perspectives of the business.
When we were creating Startup Wars, our entrepreneurship simulator, we started with the intention to make it a mobile application. We had experience making mobile apps and the initial concept was intended for smartphone use, so the project naturally took that course.
However, as we collected user feedback on the application, we saw that some users were not enjoying the restriction of a small phone screen. While we had initially started the project as a mobile program, we soon learned that it might be in our best interest to pivot towards a web-based program.
The problem was that we had already spent close to a year creating this as a mobile application. It would take a considerable amount of time and resources to change the entire project to be web-based. Despite all this, we started from the ground up and built Startup Wars as a web application.
We could have kept on our original course, but that would have opened us up to a lot of risks. It’s human nature to avoid the unknown, but sometimes what we do know isn’t the best choice for us. If we avoided a decision, we would still be fighting an uphill battle by creating our application in a way that users did not enjoy.
This is an issue that entrepreneurs naturally run into while running their business. Soon they will find themselves able to make these decisions and solve these problems with confidence. Being able to show problem-solving skills and the ability to make decisions will greatly strengthen a resume.
Employers are looking for strong-willed candidates who solve problems that they can’t. Google is the number one website in the world for a reason. When you’re able to solve problems, your skills and talent will be in high demand on the job market.
Despite everything you’ve been told about the work industry, there is something that is miles more important than anything on your resume or in your portfolio. When it comes to a candidate with a brand spanking new MBA and a candidate who has personal connections to multiple contacts in the company, the candidate with those personal connections usually beats out the others with ease.
Friends trust friends before they trust strangers. This doesn’t mean you can only secure these positions by knowing people at the company you want to work for. The real hook is if the people at the company know you.
It’s not about what you know or even who you know, it’s about who knows about what you know. The key to being a magnetic force for job offers is to have social proof of your abilities. Entrepreneurship marketing and relationships mostly revolve around this concept.
If you’re the logo designer that all other logo designers look up to, you come to the starting line with a leg up on the competition. Social Proof is a term from the 1980s that explains that people copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate behavior.
Surprisingly enough, people trust what other people trust. If we see that a large number of people rate a product as being good, we are more inclined to then think that it’s a good product. This is regardless of whether we’ve ever used this project or even know the people rating it as well.
The same applies to the workforce. If someone sees that other professionals in the field respect an individual, they will subconsciously begin to respect that individual as well. You can use this effect to establish value and respect before you’ve even stepped foot into the interview.
The hard part of this process is building up the network. This is not an easy process, even more so if you’re a more introverted person or have no experience networking. It’s an intimidating hurdle to get over, as it only starts becoming easy once you’ve trudged through the beginning stages.
The biggest issues with building a network of connections are bringing value to your network, finding relevant connections, and building a following. Thankfully, there’s an awesome thing called Entrepreneurship that makes all of this an easier process.
As mentioned before, entrepreneurship is not a one-man show. An entrepreneur relies on their network to help attain goals they wouldn’t be able to on their own. Having a network of connections opens up an entrepreneur to opportunities, potential customers, improves their reputation, and so much more. You’ll know you have built a strong network when others are excited to connect with you.
A strong following on social media shows that you are an expert in your field and know enough to teach others. Now, you can replace a six page case study with a follower count. People follow those who give value and display expertise. For companies, the best thing about the following is that it’s an audience of potential revenue.
Being able to show that you have an audience of followers, a network of influential connections, and the social reputation to back it up can secure job placement.
Most importantly, building up a network as an entrepreneur gives you access to a lifelong resource that has infinite potential. Some entrepreneurs have been able to completely operate their business off of their network. They use referrals and personal references to obtain their customers and partners. Having friends in high places can get you front and center to opportunities you could’ve never imagined.
With the competition for entry-level jobs increasing and the median wage for those positions decreasing, there are a multitude of benefits of using entrepreneurship as a way to build skills to get hired without job experiences.
As an entrepreneur, you have access to passive income and real work experience. This helps build essential skills such as management, communication, problem-solving, and more.
There are many platforms that allow entrepreneurs to build and scale businesses with ease. It’s a great time for college students to become an entrepreneur and secure a headstart on their future.