When I worked as a local television news reporter in New York City, I walked into my news director’s office one day. He was in the midst of watching video reels of reporters who had sent them in from across the country with the hopes of getting a job at the station.
The problem, as I saw it, was that my news director wasn’t really watching the reporter’s reels. He would insert a DVD, press play, watch for a few seconds, and then eject the DVD. To confound matters further, the volume was muted on the television. He couldn’t hear one word that the reporters were saying. I was confused.
“How do you know if you want to hire someone if you can’t even hear them?” I asked.
He looked at me and smiled. “I want to see if their personality makes me want to turn up the volume and hear what they have to say,” he said. I never forgot this exchange. To this day, I still find it extremely relevant.
Almost every week during the school year, I deliver leadership keynotes on college campuses across the United States. It’s an honor to regularly talk with students, learn from them and share all I can to help them succeed.
One of the most poignant moments of my talk comes when I show a slide highlighting all of the top television networks and magazines I’ve worked with over the years. These include NBC, E! News, Nickelodeon, BET, PBS, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com and more.
However, it’s not that slide that gets the audiences attention, but rather the next one. The next slide is empty. Blank.
I share with the audience that the blank slide represents my experience when I was beginning my undergraduate education at Western Michigan University. Like many students, I didn’t have any experience. But I didn’t allow this to deter me, and neither should they.
Instead, I share with them to look at the empty slide as the beginning of a new chapter to begin telling their story. Everyone has an opportunity to build their Backstory that they will share with others in the future.
To judge a college student solely based on his or her resume is to ignore so much of what makes them special. Sometimes it’s the experiences that are not on our resume that allow us to stand out even more.
I’m honored to join the about.me team and I’m committed to helping college students turn up the volume and have exceptional experiences on campus, in their careers and lives.