Friday, August 28, 2020

Interview With Career Expert & Author Skyler W. King

 Two Pieces of Paper: Honest Advice for Getting a Degree and a Job in the Modern Working World by [Skyler W. King]


 1.      Skyler, what inspired you to write your debut book, Two Pieces of Paper? There were a couple of reasons I landed on Two Pieces of Paper for my first book, but the largest was a desire to pay it forward. I was blessed with a great deal of success throughout my college career, and did my best to pass on my key learnings and advice to my peers whenever I could. Two Pieces of Paper is the aggregation of that advice, and the hope of publishing it is to extend the reach of students it could impact.


2.      What is it about and who should be reading it?  A lot of young people, including myself, have an unchallenged preconceived notion that “in order to be successful and get a good job, then you have to go to get a college degree.” However, I realized pretty early on that this logic is a bit flawed, and can possibly inhibit early in career success. Instead, focusing your college experience around the “two pieces of paper”- a college degree AND a job offer- early in career success is significantly easier to attain (rather than focusing on the degree THEN the job offer).  Anyone pursuing college for early in career success can get value out of Two Pieces of Paper, from high school students starting to explore colleges and corresponding degree programs to recent college grads needing help navigating the hiring process. However, I think Two Pieces of Paper is best served for recent high school graduates and college freshmen. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive, and employing the advice and approach I share early on will set these students up for success through their four year journey (or perhaps shorter!).


3.      What are three key take-aways that ever reader should learn? You academic success is first and foremost (that’s why it is the first piece of paper). Someone is paying a large sum of money for you to attend your school whether it is yourself, your family, scholarship donors, or taxpayers. You owe it to both them and yourself to work hard in that arena. Along with your academics, it’s important to get involved in extracurricular organizations that can help give you skills to meet experience requirements.  Only you can control your success. You can get help in writing a resume or have a connection for a job, but there is still work that needs to be done on your part. Millions of people graduate from college every year, most of whom are looking for work just like you. For that reason you have to put your best foot forward every time in order to get the job you want. While you control your own success, nobody can truly operate in a vacuum (at least forever). So whenever you get help, be appreciative and make sure those who help you know it. Also, give back whenever you can. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Disseminating them in a positive way can help us all grow.


4.      What challenges or rewards did you encounter in the process of researching, writing and editing of your book? Overall, I really enjoyed the process. The only real challenge I had was hammering out the first draft of the manuscript, but I overcame that by setting a personal deadline and sticking to it. From there it was a matter of finalizing the editing and working in the commentary of my experts. It’s been rewarding to experience this arena of publishing and all that it entails. I’d say now my favorite thing is hearing the feedback from others who have read the book and gotten something out of it (as well as discussing the book with book with folks like you of course .


5.      As a cyber security manager, what type of advice do you share to others who seek to get their first job in today’s career marketplace?  Unfortunately, my advice in Two Pieces of Paper was based around a more traditional collegiate experience, but I think a lot of it still applies in the environment we are in today. This world amidst COVID-19 is new for everyone, and with that comes the advantage of a truly level playing field. I believe those students who are able to demonstrate leadership and creative thinking through this pandemic will be the most successful in the end. In fact, I’d venture to guess that a popular interview question will be “what did you do during the pandemic?” when this is all said and done. Having a constructive answer relating to positive experiences and not “binged Netflix” will serve all career-driven students well.


6.      How should today’s college student strategically leverage extracurricular activities to achieve needed experience? This is one of the biggest challenges for college students to overcome. How do you apply for a job when you don’t have experience, but can’t get experience because the job? The answer is extracurriculars. Extracurriculars provide an avenue for indirectly related experience that can help achieve requirements. Projects you do in your academic coursework, positions you hold in professional societies, and connections you make through social organizations all feed into marketable experience that can be valuable in getting that first internship. With regard to COVID-19 and the more traditional means of being involved in extracurriculars have changed, there are still ways to stay involved in a different capacity. Moving meeting to virtual and holding online events are a few ways that I’ve seen student groups get creative in the midst of this pandemic.


7.      When it comes to crafting a resume, what do college grads need to know? My advice for resumes is simply put in two vocational viewpoints: as an artist, and as a chef. From the artist perspective, you want your resume to appear crisp and professional. Recruiters may screen hundreds of resumes for a position, and if a resume looks sloppy then there’s a good chance it gets trashed in favor of a more put together resume. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) show up to an interview for the job of your dreams in pajama bottoms and a tank top. Don’t let your resume make you out to carry that kind of lazy appearance. From the chef perspective, I discuss a resume as a three course meal. The appetizer sets the tone for the meal, and consists of your contact information and purpose statement in the sense of your resume. The entrée is the primary sustenance a recruiter will take some time on, such as your experience and education. Finally the dessert is all the extra things that sweeten yourself as a candidate like industry certifications, side projects, or relevant skills.


8.      Any advice for aspiring writers? “If not you then who, and if not now then when?” No time will ever be perfect, so just dive in head first to the deep end. You’ll end up having to force yourself to swim.  


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To contact Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, please reach him at  Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his desire to help writers succeed. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.  He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by Brian Feinblum ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He hosted several panels on book publicity for Book Expo and often speaks before writers conferences and author seminars.

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