NEW YORK (MainStreet) — What set 23-year-old Zach Roberts apart from his Millennial peers during his job search were the leadership skills developed and honed during an internship and his business school’s two-year career development program.
The general skills Roberts learned throughout the program as a mentor to other students at Wisconsin Business School in Madison played a role in his ability to get a job offer this spring as a business leadership program associate at LinkedIn, the San Francisco professional networking company.
Roberts also had enhanced his skills of communication and leadership by participating in a peer mentoring student organization for three years as an undergrad at Wisconsin, serving as a teaching assistant at the business school for two years and working as an account strategist intern at Google last year.
“My extracurricular involvement and work experience were the two most significant factors, because it taught me how I could apply my classroom learning to solve real world problems,” he said.
Employers are seeking candidates to demonstrate both strong general and specific skills, especially as they advance in their career, said Michael Gritton, executive director of Kentuckiana Works, the Louisville, Ky.-based regional workforce investment board.
Millennials who obtain specific skills in a certain industry though a college degree or industry credentials have an advantage, because the “path to your first job is more clear,” he said.
The drawback is that Gen Y-ers still need to work on their general skills to “thrive in a fast-changing economy,” Gritton said. “If you thought you eliminated that risk by majoring in a specific field, you'll soon find out your assumption was false.”