Experience as a teacher
This month’s blog post is focused on college preparation and career planning. Here is advice that I’ve received over the years.
I have a B.B.A. in marketing with an emphasis on advertising from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Dallas Walker, my management professor, was a retired human resources director when he took a job teaching at Georgia State. Mr. Walker’s class was interesting, and he was quite animated in class. It was easy to remember his lectures. One thing that stuck with me was when he advised, “When I saw résumés come across my desk and compared a straight-A student with no work experience and a C student who had worked his way through school, I hired the C student every time.”
When I interviewed for a job with advertising agencies in Atlanta, I came very close to getting a job there, but it was always my lack of experience that kept me from getting hired. I breezed through tests of proofreading and media math and was even recommended from one large agency to talk to another. Still, I didn’t have real-world experience, and that was a barrier to getting the job.
I have a good friend who used to be a Boy Scout camp waterfront director. I overheard others who are in a position of hiring saying that being a lifeguard for a camp was not good experience. I hastily disagreed. I watched as this director had to work with youth who were in charge of the safety of swimming for a lake – meaning that the water was not clear, and the swimmers could not be seen when submerged. The director also had to deal with angry customers – scoutmasters and parents – when they learned that their youth did not pass the “swimming” test, mostly meaning the youth did not follow the directions correctly for the test or did not have the stamina to pass the simple test. While thinking that a lifeguard may not have experience needed in business, I can tell you that he does.
My first job was with a quick-service restaurant. Showing up for work on time was very important. I learned to follow policies and procedures. I learned practical experience in working with a group. It wasn’t until later in my life that I realized we were working an assembly line. Sure, it was an assembly line for hamburgers, but it was an assembly line nonetheless. We had production callers. We had quality control. And, the employees who learned the different skills to do the different jobs that were available in the restaurant were the most valuable because they could work anywhere. I had a Sunday school teacher who would repeatedly tell us that “The greatest ability is dependability.” Showing up on time and following directions were important. We were allowed to discuss the directions to see if there might be a better way to complete the task. If the changes fit within the company guidelines, they were implemented.
Marketing jobs include the skills and talents of many people. Artists. Communicators. Writers. Graphic artists. Analyzers. Managers. Negotiators. Researchers. Critical thinkers. Leaders. Planners. Programmers. Storytellers. Most importantly … listeners. These are a few of the skills necessary. There are a lot more. In the early days of radio, Camel cigarettes used the slogan “Experience is the best teacher.” I don’t know about “best,” but taking advantage of all experience has to offer is a great help in moving forward in business.