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Beer-drinking college students learn lessons

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While standing in line at my local grocery story, I ran into a former neighbor who was greatly distressed about her twin sons, Patrick and Anthony. She lamented that although the twins had graduated last May, they have not found what she considered “good” jobs.

Both of them had gotten degrees in business administration because they felt that a B.S.B.A. degree would give them, as she said, “the broadest possibilities.” However, Patrick was working behind the counter at a truck rental company, and Anthony was delivering pizzas.

Seeing that this situation would not be a quick fix, the neighbor and I stepped out of the check-out line to have a serious talk about how her sons could get their careers on track. By graduating in a weak economy, they already had one strike against them. But plenty of other recent grads have found fulfilling work in the career path of their choice and at a respectable salary. I was curious to learn where Patrick and Anthony went wrong, and wanted to make some suggestions on righting their course.

In a few minutes, I learned several things the twins did wrong. When they were in college, for example, they excelled not in academic pursuits, but in drinking beer. As a result, their resumes were not filled with high GPAs, special awards or even a single internship.

Neither had given much thought to what they would do upon graduation. They skipped their college placement office's seminars on careers, internships, resume writing and how to find a job. They put their resumes together on their own, with no help from an experienced business person or their college placement office. They never bothered to set up a LinkedIn profile but they did post lots of photos of pitchers of beer and partying people on Facebook. They did not know how to network; instead, they relied exclusively on the Internet to find a job, which limited their possibilities. And finally, as soon as they got their first job offer, they accepted it out of desperation, whether they wanted it or not.

Clearly, these twins did everything wrong, but the question is, how can they remedy their situation now?

First, they need to figure out what kind of job and career path they really want. They can learn this through testing (such as the Strong Interest Inventory or similar career and interest tests that are available on the Internet), job shadowing, career books, research and self-examination. Once they have determined their goal, they could still do internships to acquire experience, industry contacts, references and perhaps a future job offer. They should learn how to network and then contact alums and others who work in their desired field.

With a business administration degree, logical entry-level choices would include jobs such as bank teller, sales and business analyst. Another option would be to join a small business in any capacity and learn from it — which could lead to starting a business of one's own.

Above all, the twins need to be persistent. Getting the right entry-level job could take months to accomplish. If they lose their resolve and slack off, they will be stuck where they are — or in a similar dead-end job — for years to come. Persistence, however, will not only yield a better job in the short term, but also will shape their entire career.

Chris Posti, president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh, is author of “The Shortest Distance between You and Your New Job.” Email questions to her at

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