Panelists discuss leadership

“All other things being equal, you have two liberal arts graduates sitting in front of you,” said Assistant Academic Dean for Career Development Alan Mueller. “One of them has a 3.9 GPA, and the other has a 2.9 GPA but has done an internship, studied abroad and was the president of a campus club for two years. Assuming that they both seem like a good fit, which candidate would you lean toward?”

In instantaneous agreement, the five panelists unanimously favored the student more involved in campus activities.

The Career Development Center hosted a post-college workshop with the Guilford College Employer Advisory Board on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in the Gilmer Room in Founders. A panel of five employers with substantial experience in the working world shared their advice on what employers are looking for, what qualities make a job candidate stand out and the worst mistakes an applicant can make.

Panelists covered effective communication, teamwork and leadership and emphasized no cell phones.

“A lack of cell phones,” said panelist Greg Barnett. “We are finding that they are getting in the way of a lot of production and becoming a distraction for employers.”

In addition, panelists stressed the importance of real life skills outside of the classroom.

“We want ‘soft skills,’” said Barnett. “Being able to work in teams, being able to come to work on time, being able to problem solve and work with individuals who do not look like you.”

In the overwhelming nature of the modern working world, panelists addressed how companies decide which candidates get the job.

“Companies are looking for a fit,” said panelist Ellen Martin. “No matter how good your résumé is, each company has their own personality and culture. When they are interviewing you, they are asking, ‘Is this person going to help the team or disrupt the team?’”

On the same end, Martin explained how important it is that job candidates connect with the work environment.

“When you go into a company, if your gut does not say to you that this feels like home, it is not a good fit,” said Martin.

The information shared by panelists mirrors the support offered to Guilford College students by the Career Development Center. All Guilford students have access to job search strategy, internship search assistance and résumé and cover review to name a few services.

“I have spoken with some people who have never been to the Career Development Center and are about to graduate,” said senior Rishetta Wells.

“It is not because Guilford doesn’t have these opportunities, it is because people don’t take advantage of them.”

Panelists emphasized the importance of exploring opportunities outside classes to build a skillset appealing to companies.

“When you come out of a liberal arts degree, the fact is that the only thing you are good for is Jeopardy,” said Martin.

“You know a lot, but you can’t do anything,” said Martin. “What you have is a foundation for the ability to learn and hopefully, the love of learning.”

With one last piece of advice, the session completed with round of applause and gratitude.

“Employers don’t generally ask about courses you have taken,” said Mueller. “They ask about experiences you have had. Get involved in community service, get involved in clubs and organizations and community outreach. Do those things, those are the things that get jobs.”