So many people when asked what they want to do after they graduate say something like “I would like a job in marketing (or whatever) where I can apply what I learned in school.”

It is natural to want to make use of the knowledge gained in your area of expertise.
You spend many years learning many subjects that cover your chosen academic path and want to try them out in the real world. In my case I was “dying” to solve a business problem using differential equations. Never happened in 30+ years!

I’VE SAID IT BEFORE AND IT BEARS REPEATING: WHAT YOU LEARN AT SCHOOL IS MERELY THE TABLE STAKES FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER; IT GUARANTEES NOTHING.

That said, without some type of formal learning background and you are unlikely to be able to enter the race.
There are many highly educated people out there who can’t get a job in the profession or company they desire. Recently I ran into a woman serving in the Marriott Copenhagen lounge who had both a Law and
Masters of International Affairs degree; this is not uncommon. To be successful you have to do MORE than “apply your knowledge”. YOU MUST LEVERAGE WHAT YOU KNOW to position yourself for career opportunities.
If you have an MBA you will want to position yourself NOT as a member of the MBA herd, but as someone who is able to apply your education to help take the organization where it needs to go. Your academic credentials allow you to have insights on business problems. You are a business problem solver first; MBA second or third or fourth or…
The point is, lead with what special value you can deliver to an organization that no one else can.

DON’T LEAD WITH YOUR PEDIGREE.

Study what your organization NEEDS to meet its strategic goals; work on objectives and tactics that line up with the desired future and give 110% of yourself to execution every day you show up. What to do after graduation? I would like to hear: “After I graduate I intend to be the only marketing manager in the company I choose to work for that is viewed by others as a senior employee within 24 months.”
Declare your end game. Pledge to be unique and separate yourself from the crowd. Build an action plan and stay with it.

Trust that WHAT you know will get you there.

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

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