CEO: Here's How College Grads Can Stand Out

May 4, 2018, 10:34 AM by Chris Coker

I have three kids. One will graduate in May from Leeds School Of Business at CU, one will be a junior at DU and one is a high school sophomore. Two out of three are still incubating, but the college graduate now has to leave the cocoon of college and home to strike out into the world. I have friends who are congratulating me on getting him to this point in life, and they are correct. It is a major accomplishment for all of us. 

What will his life be? Where will he end up working? 

This is the next hurdle that we face. The reality is that he is not that much different than the thousands of other 22-year-olds who will graduate this month and enter the job market. The economy is good, so jobs are plentiful. However, there is still competition for good jobs. He can score a fast food job just by having a pulse, but that’s not what any of us want. 

So how is he different than the rest of the crowd?

The reality is that most of our kids in this area played a sport, had good grades, did some sort of service club and went to a decent school. A CU grad in business is not a whole lot better of than a U of I grad in business. All of these schools tout they are ranked “No. 1 for blah blah blah” in the hierarchy of US News & World Report, but does it really matter on June 1st, when they put on that shiny new interview outfit and hit the road? 

Nope, it does not. 

Here is what helps to separate one recent college graduate from the next: jobs and internships. 

What did your kid do for a summer job? Where did they intern? What sort of responsibilities did they have? These experiences are telling, especially when everyone has pretty much the same collegiate resume. 

Here is a tip for them. Work as a camp counselor. Summer camp staff at resident and day camps work long hours in positions that come with incredible responsibility. This matters. It speaks to who they are and what they are capable of. They take care of people’s most valuable items (kids, for those of you who were thinking about your baseball cards). They do this from early in the morning to sometimes late at night or 24/7 in the case of sleep away camp. 

The same thing goes for internships, especially when you consider where they interned and the work they did. If you were an intern at a Fortune 500 company, where you filed and ordered lunch, that may not be impressive. If you were an intern at a nonprofit, where you helped raise $500,000 in support of a worthy cause, that is very impressive. 

In the US, we tend to think of bigger being better, so an internship or summer job at a huge company must be the best plan, right?

Bah to that. 

The best predictor of performance in an employee is actual performance. Working and interning at an organization that gives you real responsibility and work you excel at is the best for your resume. 

There are thousands of camps hiring right now. Click here to see our camp jobs or go to the web and find a cool job this summer that will have an actual impact on your resume and an impact in the world — because you need to stand out.


Thank You, 
Chris Coker
CEO/President of YMCA of Boulder Valley