Oregon State students will soon find themselves competing for jobs in all fields against laid-off workers with industry experience. As the United States faces the longest recession since WWII and the Oregon economy faces a double digit unemployment rate, Oregon State students still find ways to discover the right career and stand out among their peers and to potential employers.
Recently OSU Career Services had a conversation with senior Matt Klosterman, president of the Society of Healthcare Executives, who is pursuing his dream job as a health care executive, and asked him what it takes to find a meaningful career and stand out above the crowd.
Q: What makes you a competitive candidate in this tough job market?
A: Being involved and spending your time well learning skills that are applicable to your field makes you a more competitive candidate. I feel that involvement in a leadership organization is one of the best things you can do while in college to gain experience and to develop skill sets that will help you be successful in a very competitive job market. What you get out of being involved is much more than simply a line on a resume, it changes you as a person.
Q: How has being involved in an organization like SHE (Society of Healthcare Executives) helped you reach your potential?
A: Being part of any organization will help plug you into various channels, other clubs or national chapters of your organization. Taking a leadership role will give you confidence as you move forward and look for other opportunities. It also helps you figure out if you have a passion for your field of interest; taking the first step and going to an organizational meeting is really the hardest part, after that point it becomes a natural progression if you have passion about the your involvement.
Q: What specifically did you do to gain experience and knowledge?
A: My program requires a 10-week internship, so I was proactive in finding the best possible internship for me. Although I wish I would have started earlier; my junior year I tracked down my student organization and jumped on an entry level leadership position when it became available. I’ve also volunteered at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and I’ve actively developed relationships with faculty members. For me, finding the “right fit” was the most important aspect of this process, and I feel that it is important for everyone to be honest with themselves about what they are interested in. After I found the “right fit” it was easy for me to get involved and pursue the career I want.
Q: What do you consider the cornerstones of pursuing your career?
A: I believe that Faculty and Student Involvement are the cornerstones of career development.
Students do not take advantage and use faculty as a resource. Professors are extremely well connected and it is important to develop and grow relationships with your professors outside of the classroom. Professors make excellent mentors, but it is up to each student to take the time to get to know their professors. You cannot expect to walk into a professor’s office you have never met, or have just talked briefly with about grades and ask for a letter of recommendation just because you received an A in his/her class. You have to build that friendship just like any other relationship.
It is never too early to get involved. My involvement started my junior year when I became a peer leader with the U-Engage program here at Oregon State University. The U-Engage program matches peer leaders with faculty members to teach a first year experience class. This experience helped me develop a mentor, and set the tone for my future involvement in other organizations.
Q: Any other tips for career seekers?
A: Developing your confidence will make you a competitive person. As you go through multiple interview processes you won’t be able to fake it, you must have relevant experience or they will be able to see right through you. As you develop as a person through involvement, community service, and mentoring you will have a lot of things to talk about that you can apply and talk about during your interviews. Gaining experience and connections may sound daunting but I want to stress it is never too late to start that process. If you do not have a starting point, I would recommend looking into the resources we have here on campus. Career Services is a great resource and offers a whole host of services that are very beneficial to students looking to develop their careers. Check out the career fairs, talk to people and find the best fit for you because it is the baseline to determine your future.
Matt Klosterman is a senior in health management and policy at OSU.