How Your College Experience Prepares You for a Career

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When you are applying for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question is "How has your college experience prepared you for a career?" This type of question provides an open opportunity for you to provide a solid foundation for your candidacy.  

Tips for Answering

As with all open-ended interview questions, start your preparation by examining the key qualifications for the job. Is the employer looking for a self-starter, dynamic presenter, organizational whiz, number cruncher, take charge leader, team player, storyteller, influencer, or an innovator?

 

Then reflect upon your college experience and look for examples of how you might have developed or enhanced some of those capacities. Think broadly about your college experience and incorporate class projects, interactions with professors, challenging semesters, volunteer work, internships, campus activities, independent studies, and the other things you have done while in school.

 Make a list of 4 - 6 strengths that you developed through your college experience and be ready to describe a role or situation where you developed the asset and the impact you made.

It can be helpful to think about the person you were during high school in comparison to who you are now. 

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are sample interview answers that you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background:

Answer 1: I never really thought of myself as a leader before college but during my sophomore year I really blossomed in that area.

 I learned about the earthquake in Guatemala and was amazed and dismayed by all the devastation.  I decided to initiate a campus fund drive to raise contributions for the Red Cross. I recruited volunteers, wrote articles for the campus paper and organized a benefit concert.  Overall, we generated over $10,000 in donations.

I went on to lead the other student groups you can see from my resume.

Answer 2: I was somewhat shy during high school, but college really helped me to come out of my shell.  I joined the debate team my freshman year and developed confidence in presenting my views.  Since then I have excelled at class projects where we have done team presentations.  I can create some mean PowerPoint slides!

Answer 3: My high school didn't really emphasize writing, so I came into college without a great deal of confidence in that area.  My sociology professors quickly changed that since they required so much writing in their courses.  It took me two semesters to hit my stride, but I began to really excel in my papers.  I did an independent study in my junior year when I wrote a 50 page paper on the impact of decriminalizing marijuana. I also took on a position as assistant editor of the school paper and received very positive feedback from our adviser regarding the quality of my articles.

Answer 4: My experience in college not only prepared me for my career, but it also prepared me for life outside of my career. I gained skills that cannot be taught. Through interactions with fellow students, professors, internship supervisors, and coworkers, as well as other college staff, I earned a "degree" in people and social skills that I did not even sign up for.

Entry Level Interview Questions and Answers
More entry level interview questions and sample answers.

College Job Interview Questions
When you are a college student or recent graduate, it's important to relate your college education, extracurricular activities, and experiences to the job for which you are applying.

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