Part of what we do at Hob Nob is help recruit internship talent for organizations, and consult with employers on how to create great internship experiences. As a result, we get our fair share of applications from college students on a daily basis for the opportunities that we showcase within our campus chapters.
And you know what? I've noticed something.
With the state of the economy not exactly rosy at the moment, it's sending students into a flurry of activity...which is not exactly good in this case. Why? The flurry of activity is students applying to every internship opportunity that seems remotely viable, irrespective of their qualifications, interests, or talents.
Now, I can't exactly blame the students--after all, the prospect of landing a job are extremely hard in this environment. But this is precisely why I'd argue for the case that students, more than ever, must figure out ways to become "sharp."
Sharp is understanding your strengths and how to leverage them. Sharp is knowing your weaknesses, and finding ways to minimize them without pretending they don't exist. Sharp is articulating what makes you different than anyone else. Sharp is the opposite of being well-rounded. At the end of the day, being sharp means knowing what you are looking for and seeking opportunities that align best with what you bring to the table.
If you're a student trying to find an opportunity, I have just two words for you: Be Sharp. You'll gain better traction with the focus that comes from knowing what you want. It's not to say you don't have to apply to a lot of positions--I'm not disputing the fact that this environment is challenging and you might have to be more patient than ever in this job market. What I AM saying is that you will have a greater chance of being noticed through the noise if you find a way of differentiating yourself. And that usually means figuring out what makes you unique...and what makes you different.
In this climate where there is an "abundance" of talent looking to get plugged into careers, it's easier to be remembered for being unique in a sea of sameness.