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  • Writer's pictureEric Dahl

Paying It Forward

This past week a family friend, and now professor teaching at my alma mater Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO), Mike Simmons asked me to speak with his class via FaceTime. Anytime that I can, I make these kinds of opportunities fit in to my schedule because I feel that I gain as much as the students do. Plus, the questions that they pose are thought provoking. During the class conversation, we talked about the changing world of Television, Radio, News and all media. The students ranged from Mass Communications majors (like I was), Journalism and Marketing. What was different about this engagement was that since most of the students were Seniors, much of the chat involved resumes and video resumes. Reflecting on my own education at SEMO I wish that professionals in the field would have been brought in to speak at my classes on similar aspects. Like many of us in the working world I was forced to gain the majority of my knowledge in the field, while trying to work my way up the ladder of television and not fall off the edge while doing it. I was fortunate to have great mentors as I navigated the media path and my college instructors were tremendous, but had my eyes been opened earlier on I might have chosen differently in the business? Not all advice we receive is the best, especially from our peers at those moments in time when they don’t have much more experience than we do. A few of the tidbits that I shared with Professor Simmons’ class included:

• Keep your Resume to one page unless you have been in the business a long time.

• Keep your Video Resume reel under 2 or 3 minutes and send it in a link or thumb drive that is easy for the manager to find with only your best!

• You have 5 minutes to capture the attention of your potential employer, don’t waste it with fluff and impress but be honest.

Having been a manager since I was twenty-five years old I have had the opportunity to review close to 1,000 Resumes and Video Resumes. I’ve seen great, good and bad in both categories. Today we may have two or three hundred applications for one open position. And although it is in digital form instead of paper (except during the in person interview) if an applicant doesn’t have the basic skills and doesn’t catch my attention in the first few minutes then I must move on. A few other points I brought up to the students was to document where and what they created that was released to the public be it print, radio or TV and what the outlet was. Obviously, internships always look great on a resume and show initiative beyond the regular curriculum. If they hadn’t built it already I suggested they create their LinkedIn page, since many employers (me included) will reference there for deeper information. Whatever area we work in I believe it is our duty to Pay It Forward to students and others seeking to grow. Sharing some of the experiences (good and bad) that have helped us move our careers forward or held us back. One of the final things I discussed with the Southeast students was some advice my Grandpa Dahl gave me as a teenager. “Always dress for success,” and that means for interviews or any time you are working with people that you want to impress and leave a positive impression. An applicant that arrives dressed professionally compared to one arriving in a t-shirt and shorts provides the interviewer another reason to remember them. It isn’t one big thing that will help these students gain jobs that utilize their majors, it will be a host of little ones that add up. I hope our hour-long discussion was of benefit to the students and I encourage each of you to do the same and share your knowledge and experience with others that can benefit! One day all of us could be working for them and it would be nice if they remembered us being helpful to their careers also!

Students of Today = Employees of Tomorrow!


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