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What sets us apart for success in college and our careers

We all know remember that infamous "What sets you apart from others?" question asked during interviews every time. What actually sets us apart that potential employers or admission officers want to hear? It is indeed an extremely important question when you come to think about it because they want to know that you are not just some other mediocre talker. I personally think they look for someone who makes impact and strives to make change, no matter how small, wherever they go. They want to know what they stand to gain by accepting you. What do you think? #college #engineering #career #finance #professional #marketing #health #tech


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Christopher ’s Answer

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said someone that makes an impact and drives change. When I review resumes for undergraduates, I really look for leadership positions and responsibility. I think people much prefer to see a candidate take a leadership role in some type of club or organization, no matter what it is, rather than just be a "member" of a ton of different clubs. Experienced admissions officers and hiring managers can see right through the fluff and want to see someone that has challenged themselves and really immersed in a club, project, etc.


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Lindsey’s Answer

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"I personally think they look for someone who makes impact and strives to make change, no matter how small, wherever they go. They want to know what they stand to gain by accepting you. " --That's exactly right! You just have to be able to convince the interviewer of this. That's the hard part:)

The folks who have already weighed in already touched on a few super important qualities: good communication, proven leadership ability, etc.

Here's my two cents:

1. Your value proposition to the employer or school completely depends on the position you're applying for, company you want to work at, or school you're hoping to attend. You must be thoughtful about those things when you're figuring out your value prop prior to the interview. For example, if you're interviewing for a Community Manager role at a nonprofit you have to clearly convey how your past experiences cater to this role, why you're passionate about community building, and craft a story around how community has played a significant role in your life.

2. Be able to articulate how you're a proactive problem solver. Have prepared a story or two about how you were able to creatively solve a problem (big or small) and how it impacted what you were working on and/or the people around you.

3. Never underestimate the power of story telling! Whether it's in an essay or an in person interview, your ability to tell your own story in the context of what you're applying for/speaking to will go a LONG WAY. Employers, for example, will ask super open ended things like "so tell me about yourself" (I ask it every time I interview someone!) and what they're looking for is a clear, concise and compelling story about who you are and why you're here, talking about this job at this company. You've got to be able to "start at the beginning" and come full circle in a way that holds your audience without boring them.. and the only way to do that is to practice. I recommend doing a couple exercises-- write out a timeline that includes things like where you were born, where you went to HS (and college, if applicable), what jobs you've held, volunteer opportunities you've participated in, and where you hope to end up one day. Then, answer the following questions in more detail to give these timeline events more color, personality and context.
Here are a few questions you can answer to help you get started:
-Where were you born and raised?
-Who raised you and what are they like?
-How did this^ influence you?
-What jobs have you held? What did you learn doing those jobs?
-What are your aspirations in life? What does your life look like in 10 years when you close your eyes and try to visualize it?
...and the list goes on:)

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Edward’s Answer

I can tell you why admissions people want to know: because in every new class they have to replace departing seniors that stand apart in something (sports, government, theater, music) that they need for their campus community. 'there's no way you could know about departing seniors, so don't stress about it; just be certain to communicate everything unusual you have done. And know that upwards of 90% of all applicants are qualified in every way to be admitted, as applicants self-select very well for the colleges they apply to.


Employers want someone who can perform the tasks they need; so do your best to discover what an employer needs specifically (come right out and ask!) then tailor all your communications to those tasks, yes even your resume. If you can't honestly do that, move on and don't waste your time.


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Kathy’s Answer

What an excellent question and so many different perspectives. An employer will always want someone that will fit into their company culture so it is really important to understand what that culture is going into an interview situation. Most importantly for me would be your life experiences and how you have learned from these experiences that relate to the corporate world. This is what shapes you as a person, demonstrates your drive and enthusiasm and shows the employer your positive attitude.


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Brandi’s Answer

Along with a positive attitude, as Gary said, I would also add enthusiasm (or it's friendly neighbor passion). People really respond to someone who is enthusiastic about what they are doing.


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Ivan Alberto’s Answer

Hello Timothy,
What I would like to add for the other answers is passion and perseverance for everything you set your mind, this both are very important to make you a success person in life and in any professional career, if you really like what you do, if you really have a passion for what you want, you will find the way to achieve your goals no matter what difficulties you find and people see this.


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Gary’s Answer

Hi,
That is a truly excellent question with possibly 100s of different answers, I will only provide one answer and I think that is ATTITUDE...a good or bad attitude can make or break a person, a career and their life. I have learned (the hard way) that my 'attitude definitely determines my Altitude' in career, education and life.
Good luck, Gary


I agree Gary, attitude does play a very big role. That is why very enthusiastic and passionate individuals make it far in their careers and usually quickly. Timothy O.

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Liza’s Answer

I think you are right, they do want to know what they get by accepting you. It is also what unique or diverse perspective you will bring. As a hiring manager I am looking for the things you do that make you different and will add to a team's make-up. Those things are not usually about grades or jobs but leadership and life experiences that bring perspective.


This is very true as every single person should have something to offer in terms of impact wherever they go Timothy O.

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September’s Answer

I would say there are two things that will make you stand out. The first is learning how to market your experience and skillset appropriately. Learning how to brand yourself will make you stand out from your peers who have the same extracurriculars on their resume. The second is passion. You can not teach passion.

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Dennis’s Answer

Tim -

There is no doubt that ones work ethic will play a role in real time Success and Future successes.
How you apply yourself everyday looking to succeed, game planning around your Goals and initiatives - putting in the work will only benefit you more in College and a Career - The Foundation has to be put in place first starting with you!

Good Luck!

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Nadine’s Answer

The biggest thing I'd look for is attitude and work ethic. You can't teach those 2 pieces. I would rather work with someone who is might not be as knowledgeable, but is a team player/easy to get along with and gives it their all.

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