From Quora: How could a fresh graduate contribute to the company he’s applying to?

Originally posted on: http://www.quora.com/How-could-a-fresh-graduate-contribute-to-the-company-hes-applying-to/answer/Angela-Liu-12

Foreword: Quora is an open-source Q&A repository.  In other words, an amalgam of opinions: ranging from the the stupid and stock to the brilliant.  It’s like having Big Macs and Le Truffle Noire at the same buffet table.

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Q: Recurrent interview question:  How will you add value to our company? What is a great way to reply to such questions for a fresh graduate, without experience in the target industry yet?
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A: I’m going to go a bit off-kilter here so bear with me for not answering your questions straight-shooter style.  When confronting these questions, remember and try to think in manner of the following:

  • For the life of me, I can’t remember from which book and wise figure this came from but someone said that once you acknowledge that there is no one like you in the world, your ability to change the world becomes limitless.
  • Already discussed in a previous post but, anyways: Google’s hiring philosophy prioritizes LEARNING ABILITY over experience or intelligence.  This includes the ability and willingness to retool; to, essentially, understand that what skills, knowledge, and approach you have now are just means to an end and not be married to any one aforementioned; to eagerly dive into risk from a learning-oriented versus a loss-aversion and fear-oriented mindset; to think “Cool what next new awesome thing awaits?” as you face the unknown.
  • You are a fresh mind, a maverick.  While the more ‘senior’ workforce tends to have the opposite heuristic foisted on them which sometimes works against them, this common young-blood type of idea in many employers’ minds does work in your favor.  Let this bolster your spirits.
  • Don’t trivialize your passion, drive, and potential.  Even if not manifest in professional work experience, I bet it’s manifest somewhere else…whether it’s in a personal struggle like a health issue or a mini-existential crisis (b/c god knows, even as young bucks, we ‘thinkers’ will have our fair share) or a personal for-fun, pet project (wrestling with devising an app that’ll save you the manual trouble of importing and organizing Kindle reads on the cloud…or whatever), a volunteer or internship or school project experience…whatever.  [Obviously, when we are talking concrete projects, any presentable artifact such as project or code uploaded onto some open-source repository like Github….or a WordPress blog post or a website or whatever …shouldn’t be forgotten.]  No matter how seemingly divorced these experiences may be from the ‘professional’ work context, you can always find a way to tie it together if you allow yourself to see the connection and let your experiences in all arenas of life move you holistically forward.  I’ll unabashedly tell someone that one of the bajillion reasons I will stand by my current merit and potential as a recruiter is my experience in teaching, which taught me about understanding people’s needs and how to differentiate my approaches in capturing their buy-in’s; about reconceptualizing my teaching abilities as how good of a learner I could be and how much I could let my students teach me, etc.   (When I first tout my teaching as partly attributable to my recruiting success, most people look at me quizzically.  Once I explain it with zeal, they usually get it along with a bonus ‘I never thought of it that way and it’s cool that you did’ admiration dealie.) It all connects.  NOTE: Don’t trivialize the above either with some canned, trite “I’m really motivated or xyz” and leave it at that.  We’ve all heard it.  Again, if you truly understand the tie-in’s of your past experiences and how the lessons, skills and xyz’s can transfer to what you bring to prospective job, doubtful you’ll give a canned response.

These viewpoints require a general trust in your present, developing, and future self.  That self-belief will give you some compelling answers to those questions on your value-add.

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