Many interns enter the workforce with some experience but mainly depend on their educational degrees to land them positions. While a college or graduate degree provides you with valuable experience that you can use in the workplace, many job applicants may have similar educational experience to you.
One way to set you apart from the crowd of applicants is to become certified in areas where you would like to gain expertise. Examples of certifications that can set you apart from the crowd are obtaining a Six Sigma certification for those of you into business or drug and alcohol certifications for those of you into counseling. Besides getting certified in an area of expertise, you can also gain skills that you can add to your resume and skill repertoire. One such skill is learning how to do a SWOT analysis.
SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (Jackson, Joshi, & Erhardt, 2003). Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal factors while opportunities and threats are considered external factors. What this means is that internal factors come from within while external factors come from outside a company. The goal of a SWOT analysis is to look at internal and external factors that are important to achieving an organizational goal.
Let’s say, for example, that a car dealership’s objective is to sell 100 cars by the end of the fiscal year. The manager of that car dealership may do a SWOT analysis and determine that the strength of the dealership is that it has high quality SUVs while a weakness is that the salespeople are too pushy and are scaring customers away. That same manager may identify the dealership being in an upscale suburban neighborhood where having an SUV is seen as a status symbol as an opportunity and the presence of other SUV dealerships nearby as a threat. As you can see, a SWOT analysis can provide you with a lot of information that you can use to implement a business strategy.
You can also implement a SWOT analysis to achieve your personal goals. If one of your goals was to obtain an entry level position, you can use SWOT to organize your strategy and approach. Your strengths can be your educational background and certifications. Your weaknesses can be your work experience. Opportunities can be internships that are available in the community and threats can be other applicants. You can then form a strategy and an approach to obtain more work experience through internships, and use your certifications to differentiate yourself from other internship applicants. As a result, you can gain the experience that you need for that entry level position.
Jackson, S. E., Joshi, A., & Erhardt, N. L. (2003). Recent research on team and organizational diversity: SWOT analysis and implications. Journal of management, 29(6), 801-830.
Image credit: David Duarte