Carey Smith’s Advice to Graduating College Students

1pagerTo get hired, you don’t need a certain magical set of experiences and perfectly formulated answers to interview questions. You just need to be ready to open up and to show your true self. To say it another way: the best way to sell yourself is to be yourself. The passionate, hard-working person does not have to say, “I am a passionate, hard-working person.” He or she just is and it comes through. So relax. Review for job interviews but don’t rehearse. Instead, put yourself in the mindset that you had when you first saw the listing and thought, “Oh, I want that one!”

The New York Times did a great, concise interview with Carey Smith, CEO of Big Ass Fans, and I want to share it with you, and not just because I wanted to type A-s-s onto our blog without getting in trouble. In the interview, Smith shares some fun stories and tid bits of advice that are helpful for graduating college students and jobseekers in general. Here were the three biggest takeaways:

1. After discussing the time when he convinced his high school to let him run things for three days (seriously), he says that the experience gave him the impression that, “I can do what I want to do, and I don’t have to do what other people do.” He then clarifies that this can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. You might feel more confident, but you also inadvertently place yourself in a different category than everyone else, which can be dangerous since you’ll inevitably need to engage with others at some point to succeed. The lesson: you need to be tactical with when you go against the status quo, or else you might think you’re making progress when really you’re burning bridges.

2. Smith talks about what he looks for in a job candidate, but also says he does a lot of his hiring from the gut. He doesn’t study someone’s resume too much and cares about a candidate’s initiative more than anything else. The takeaway here is that there isn’t really a formula to getting any job. Yes, if you were trying to get hired at Big Ass Fans, you would want to show your initiative as much as possible, but where would not want to do that? What company would not care about initiative?

3. Perhaps the most important thing in this article is his advice to graduating college students:

I tell college kids that you will get opportunities in your life, and with the first couple of them, you might blow them off because you figure, “I don’t want to do it right now.” But you realize as you get older that you really have to dive into those opportunities.

In other words, don’t take opportunity lightly. If you get a job offer and you’re seeing big glaring red flags all over the place, then fine, maybe turn that position down. But if your criteria for what you are willing to do ends just a few paces outside your “Dream Job” then you’re going to end up turning your back on a lot of potential opportunities that no, aren’t perfect, but may provide valuable lessons to get where you want to go.

Those were my big takeaways, but there’s more in that little article than this, so be sure to read it and draw your own conclusions.

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