Career Development Tips To Help You Get Career Ready

According to the 2018 McGraw-Hill Education Survey only 4 in 10 U.S. college students feel well prepared for their careers.  Largely, students don’t feel they’ve gained critical career skills they need to transition into the workforce.  There is a big gap between student and employer perceptions.

With only 40% of college students feeling career ready one thing seems for sure preparing for post-graduation life early is essential.  So, here are a few tips from our Management Team to help you reach career success.

  • Develop your work ethic, your communication skills, your determination, your problem solving skills, and your ability to lead yourself and others.  Those will be the difference makers at the end of the day. Do NOT stress so much about college choice, major choice, GPA.  Those are the things drilled into you as you grow up.  Although each of those will be a part of your career path when you look back, those will not be deciding factors in your level of success.  You and only you will be the deciding factor.  Those will be the difference makers at the end of the day. – Taylor Duncan
  • Utilize this unique period of your life when you shadow and interview prominent people in your field of interest. You don’t need to intern for three months at that investment banking firm, pouring coffee and filing papers to get “exposed” to the industry. Write a letter to senior management asking to interview them. You’ll be surprised at the response and the access you get. The most jealous person? That hard-working intern who rarely gets any fact-time with management. -Jeff Gunhus
  • Get involved. Utilize your summers to volunteer at your dream company or take that internship even if it’s unpaid as opposed to working at taco bell. The money lost by not working that hourly job will be returned 10 fold in your career. It’s never great to go in debt, but it may even be worth having to take that extra student loan. – Tyler Morelan
  • Do challenging things. So much of our lives people try to shelter us from failing, feeling vulnerable or putting ourselves out there. When in reality having those experiences is what makes us stronger, teaches us to deal with adversity and gives us the confidence to go after what we want in life.  To quote Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  -Nick Shroer
  • Understand the role of your feelings when it comes to long-term development. Feelings like fear, anxiety, and doubt often accompany any task you have not completed yet and thus are reasons TO DO things, NOT reasons to shy away. Your short term anxieties are like lactic acid for the brain; temporary pain in the short term, development outside of your comfort zone and newly learned skills for the long term. Your brain is currently hard wired to acquire pleasure TODAY and avoid pain TODAY the best thing you can do while young is to rewire your brain – find comfort in discomfort. This will keep you in a state of constant growth and will acclimate you to stress. Much like climbers on Everest must camp up high to grow their tolerance to breathing in high altitude, so you must train yourself to handle stress while the body and brain is young and the pain tolerance is high. Do this, and success in any field will be the natural by product. -Chris Heerdegen
  • Do more than the job description.  Once you are in a job or career the best way to move up or redefine your position is to take on more than the minimum expectations of the job.  Early in your career volunteer for new projects, committees, training others, etc.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  By taking on additional responsibilities think of it as a free pass to try a promotion.  If you succeed you’ll likely get promoted or earn additional compensation, if you fail you usually will keep your job because the extra work wasn’t in your job description. – Sean Phelps

Have you had success attaining a great job after graduating college or have any advice for others? Leave your comments below.

Tiffany Phelps

Marketing Manager

College Works Painting

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Do

By: Ryan Coon, CEO of Avail

When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying accounting and finance, I was hired as a summer intern at College Works. My internship taught me the foundation of how to be a good entrepreneur.

Since graduating, I’ve worked for a large investment bank and, more recently, co-founded a company with a fellow U of I graduate, Laurence Jankelow.

Our company, Avail, helps DIY landlords manage their rental properties with the tools, support, and education they need. We launched in 2012 and now have more than 250,000 landlords and tenants using our platform. In this article, I’m going to share my top 5 tips for running a successful business:  

Stay focused

Many companies fail because they lose sight of their goal.

Your company’s objective should be clear and each decision you make for the business should come from a place of furthering your mission. You’ll accomplish more if you stay focused on your goal, rather than distracted by other opportunities along the way.

Staying focused also applies to your personal mindset. Each day is an opportunity to bring your best self to your office: rested and eager to get work done. One key way that I stay focused is using Evernote to organize my to-do list. I cut out “fluff” tasks that are not high priority and make sure I’m completing tasks that will have the largest impact first.

Focus on the customer

At Avail, one of our core values is customer-centricity. We believe improving our customers’ lives is not only the right thing to do, but also helps our business thrive.

Here’s how to stay focused on your customer:

  • Build a product that solves a core problem for your target audience
  • Provide support channels (phone, email, live chat) so they can reach out with questions and concerns
  • Personally reach out to customers when they join your platform to welcome them and answer questions
  • Provide education that helps them learn and grow
  • Send them emails about company updates and new content  
  • Hire an account manager so you’re proactively reaching out to existing customers in a helpful way
  • Continue to iterate on your product to improve what you offer
  • Find ways to innovate so you’re offering even more value to your customers

When you focus on the customer, they’ll stay with you long-term, refer their family and friends, and show other potential customers that they shouldn’t miss out on the amazing benefit you offer.  

Surround yourself with great people

Building a business is a team sport — you need the right players in the game in order to win. As you’re building your team, be sure to hire people who are excited about your mission, bring unique and diverse skills to the table, and are ready to get work done.

More than that, surround yourself with people who do the right thing, bring a great attitude to work, and are people you enjoy being around. You’ll be celebrating the wins together and working hard together when you need to get more done and faster.

At Avail, we recruit top talent and make sure our job postings are posted on top sites, like AngelList. Our hiring process usually goes like this:

  1. We’ll schedule an initial phone call to learn more about a potential hire and discuss the opportunity.
  2. We’ll then schedule an in-person interview where the potential hire will meet with different groups of people in our company.
  3. And last, we’ll provide a task or test so we can gauge performance and skills.

This process is efficient and effective at helping us hire people who are talented and excited to join us.

Do more with less

We’re a midwestern startup with scrappy roots. ‘Doing more with less’ is the mindset that’s gotten us where we are today. We push for more work to get done (and better results) with less capital.

Outwork everyone

To run a successful business, you have to outperform other companies, set the right goals, tackle your to-do list, and hustle.

Beyond the hard work, it also pays off to take feedback from people around you and improve your skills. Even top achievers should be in a constant state of growth, so that work quality, quantity, and speed is always improving.

If you have any questions about running a business, or what we do at Avail, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at  

About Avail

Today, 80,000 landlords and 170,000 tenants use Avail because it’s the only end-to-end platform that helps them manage the rental process all in one place. We provide rental listings, rental applications, leases, rent payments, and maintenance tracking — all online. Even better, tenants who use Avail can boost their credit score by paying rent on time with our online rent payments.

College Works Painting Ranked #1 Internship for Career Development

The results are in and has ranked College Works as the #1 Internship for Career Development.

Vaults main mission is to provide the intelligence that students and professionals need to build the careers they want, and to partner with companies seeking to engage with people pursuing high-potential careers.

We are ranked among internships at Schwab, Capitol One, Nickelodeon, Northwestern Mutual, and IHeartMedia. Read the full list HERE.

Check out our full Vault Profile Page HERE.

The Career Development Category is based on: training and mentoring, quality of assignments, real-life experience and networking opportunities.

Our interns don’t just make copies and poor coffee, that’s why our interns consistently get great jobs when they graduate, and our alumni network opens doors for them at hundreds of companies.

What interns are saying:

  • “With hard work comes progress and personal fulfillment.”
  • “Best opportunity to learn how to run a business with no financial investment.”
  • “Be ready to work your tail off, but learn the most you ever have in your life.”
  • “Entrepreneur development unlike any other.”
  • “The most challenging, yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
  • “Greatest internship to prepare you for the real world.”
  • “Best learning experience a college student can have.”
  • “Gain experience in running your own business in a risk-free and supportive culture.”
  • “I learned how to be successful in the real world, not just the classroom.”
  • “The most difficult internship with the most exciting opportunities and culture.”

Click HERE to download our full Vault Flier with more reviews, the hiring process/sample interview questions, and day-to-day responsibilities straight from our interns.

We are beyond excited for this ranking! A big THANK YOU to our interns and alumni. Our program wouldn’t be what it is without the path that our super successful alumni have carved for current students to follow in their footsteps.

Heather Cota
Event and Communications Manager
College Works Painting

What Did You Do This Last Summer?

The Catch-22 all college students face:

Employers are looking to hire college graduates with experience in their field, but few employers are willing to give students opportunities to get that experience while in college.

This is a dilemma that many students face, so many decide to do…well, nothing. They work normal summer jobs at coffee shops, random side jobs or take the summer off. You have to do what you need to do to make money (I worked at a mill doing manual labor work for 60 hours a week the summer before my first year of college), but you do have a choice.

Rachel Zupek, from Career Builder, recently submitted an article to CNN stating that one of the top 10 things an employer looks for in a college graduate is relevant work experience. Experience was much more important to them than what school they went to or what kind of degree they had.

A Bachelor’s degree by itself doesn’t mean much to an employer these days. The Associated Press released a report in April stating that “53.6% of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or unemployed.”

That’s a pretty scary number.

So here are a few tips on how you can begin to get relevant work experience, while still attending school, that will help you attain a good job when you graduate.

  1. Internships. There are tons of internships out there that will help you get relevant work experience. Many of them will not be paid internships, so make sure they are the best fit for you from an experience standpoint. The best internship you can get is with the company you want to work for. Many employers use their internship as a “tryout” to see if they’d like to hire you in the future. is a great place to find internships in your area.
  2. Clubs. It’s tough finding good clubs on campus. The best thing you can do is look for any and all clubs relevant to your major and attend the meetings to see if they’re interesting to you. When you find one that is interesting, try to get a leadership position where you can teach and coach others on that particular field – that’s the part that looks good on a resume.
  3. Organizations. Find organizations offered outside of your college that are relevant to your field. For example, Toastmasters is a great organization that helps people with their speaking and presentation skills, which are a must for most jobs these days.

Have you had success attaining a great job after graduating college or have any advice for others? Leave your comments below.

Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting

Where Do You Find Motivation?

Ever notice a common brand amongst the sea of treadmills and bikes at your gym?


One of the more common brands out there, Life Fitness, can be found in many gyms across America.

Last week, we handed the co-Founder of Life Fitness, Augie Nieto, a check (video coming soon!) to help aid in his search for finding a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Augie’s story is quite a remarkable one, especially for any aspiring entrepreneurs. He helped grow Life Fitness to several hundred million dollars and sold it – more than once. In September of 2005, he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease which inhibits the brain and spinal cord from having control over voluntary movements.

I was really excited to actually get to meet the guy in person.

Considering his condition, what Augie is able to do is quite astounding. He has hardly any movement in his body right now except for his legs. He can hear, but cannot verbally communicate. He uses a pretty elaborate set up called the DynaVox EyeMax System that allows him to communicate via eye movements.

The entire time we were there I was asking myself, “Where the heck does this guy get his motivation?” Since 2005, he’s spent nearly all of his time raising over $30 million for a cure he might not even get to see the benefit of.

It really made me think about all the times I’ve ever been too tired to get something done or was too burnt out from school or work.

So the next time you just don’t feel “motivated enough” to work hard towards your career or educational goals, think about Augie and where his motivation comes from. He’s not letting anything get in his way.

For more information on Augie and his mission to find a cure for ALS, visit Leave questions and comments below!

Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting

Note-taking and Efficiency Tools For Little To No Cost

As a student, you’re always looking for the most efficient way to keep your school work organized. But the part that is often overlooked is having a way to search through them and find important things quickly.

Taking notes by hand is great, but it’s extremely time consuming to have to scour through pages and pages of notepads to find the one sentence you were looking for.

There are a ton of solutions out there now that are little to no cost. I’ve taken the time to review three of them here for you so you know where to start.

  1. Evernote – The best thing about Evernote is it’s searching and tagging features. You can organize everything into notebooks and have sub categories. For example, you might have a folder called “school” and then sub folders for every class. You can tag each note with the class name, what you studied that day, etc. so you can quickly use the search box to find anything. You can also take web clippings from articles you find on the web that you like and tag those as well for later. This eliminates the need to bookmark sites just because you liked a single blog article. There is a free and premium version that can be used on your computer, tablet and cell phone at or the app store your phone supports. 5/5 stars – there isn’t anything out there as robust as Evernote
  2. Dropbox, Google Drive – With both services, you have up to 2GB of storage for free. I personally like Google Drive because I use GMail as well so everything is in one place. The cool thing about these programs is that they sync files wirelessly to your computer, tablet and cell phone…and the files will always be on the Internet to download. It syncs real time and is a great way to eliminate the use of thumb drives and having to email yourself files all the time. The sites can be found at and 4/5 stars – these services are great, but files can be hard to pull up on tablets and cell phones
  3. Notepad+ – This is a great tool created by current College Works Vice Presidents in California. The cool thing about this app is that you can take notes on your iPhone and then sync them with a Google Doc or Evernote. The notes application on the iPhone that comes stock isn’t very robust when it comes to syncing or adding titles. It’s very unorganized. This app is the best of all worlds when it comes to note taking and list making. You can find it on the iTunes app store here. 4/5 stars – this app does exactly what it’s supposed to do: sync your notes…and for only $.99 what do you have to lose?

Any other tools you guys have found to be effective for note-taking or that help in overall efficiency as a student?


Jason D. Bay
Marketing Director
College Works Painting

What Employers Look For In Potential Employees

52% of college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed! If you are like most soon-to-be graduates that statistic will most likely cause you to panic a little. Wait! There is good news! According to an article in U.S. News, 9 out of 10 employers say they will hire more graduates this year than last. That means you better be ready to get out there and start interviewing.

In a competitive job market, lack of professionalism can be detrimental and cause you to lose out on many great opportunities, especially if you are a recent grad. Here are some basic keys to success that will help you out when looking for a job.


No. 1: Watch out for your social media accounts

You’ve probably heard it a million times but being aware of your online presence is one of the most important things to remember. According to a survey on, employers claim to search for the following red flags when in the process of potentially hiring someone.

  • Inappropriate or provocative photos (49%)
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (45%)
  • Poor communication skills (35%)
  • Discriminatory comments about other people (28%)
  • Lying about qualifications (22%)

Try running some searches on yourself and see what comes up. Ask yourself, “Would I hire me?”


No. 2: Always have a good A.T.T.I.T.U.D.E.

It is so simple and obvious but somehow it seems to be easily forgotten. When applying for a job, strive to come across as friendly and enthusiastic no matter what. Always be positive during interviews and be careful never to speak negatively about past employers or companies. Employers know if you speak negatively about past employers you will be willing to do the same about them. Last but not least, ALWAYS follow up an interview with a thank you note. Job Interviewing Thank You Letter Tips on has examples of how to write many different post-interview thank you notes.


No. 3: Communication skills

If you pay attention to job postings, you will notice most postings specify “strong communication skills” in the job requirements. Strong communication skills are important in securing a job in today’s market, especially for the current generation that relies heavily on technology for communication. Hard skills such as how to use a particular program or software are generally easy to teach, however soft skills such as communication take development. Strong communications skills include:

  • Verbal and non-verbal
  • Technological and non-technological
  • Mediated and non-mediated
  • Participatory and non-participatory


Have any questions or comments?
Let us know what you think!


Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant

Do You Have What It Takes? Easy Ways To Stand Out To Potential Employers

Employers want the best. Companies are working to hire with more precision, which in turn makes it a more competitive field for both employers and those recent graduates competing for jobs.

Our last student tips post gave you an overall idea of a few key things to think about as you begin your quest for employment. Now that you know three broad items employers look for it’s time to start looking at specifics.

Here are some key places to highlight when presenting yourself to a potential employer


No. 1: Basic knowledge of the company

With the digital age we live in, there is no reason why you should go to an interview without at least a basic knowledge of what the company does, what the job your applying for entails, and what working for the company might be like. Being unprepared at an interview is a major turn-off for employers and will most likely guarantee you don’t get asked back. Do your research.

Always have a list of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. This shows you are engaged and will also help you to decide if you feel the position is right for you.

Career Builder offers a list of questions, for you as the interviewee, to ask those that are interviewing you


No. 2: Leadership experience

Many employers look for students that standout as leaders and have previously held leadership positions. Whether you have been captain of a sports team or president of a student organization, employers want to see that you take initiative and have potential to step up and lead within their company.

An article in Fox Business talks about the importance of leadership experience by highlighting that the job market we operate in today has a higher turnover rate than ever before. Because of the high turn over rate employers are looking for people that will move up in there company instead of leave.


No. 3: Internship experience

Internships are known to get a bad rap because, lets face it, no one wants to work for free. However landing an internship can be just as competitive as landing an entry-level job. The thing most people don’t know is that an internship holds even more value on your resume than an entry-level job.

Studies show that, on average, 90% of employers look for students that have held at least one to two internships before graduating. This means that, if you want to stand out to employers, you should expect to put in a minimum of three to six months gaining experience through internships before graduating.

Internships can be found through your school, career websites, or even sites such as Craigslist. Remember the experience you can gain from an internship will benefit you more in the long run than the money you would make working at an entry-level job.


3 things to do after reading this post

  1. Do your research
  2. Be a leader
  3. Get an internship

Any additional questions or comments for us?
Leave a comment below and  we will be sure to get back to you!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant


Social Media And Why You Need To Use It

Put simply, social media puts your business in touch with the world.

According to a study done by University of Oxford, roughly one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet, with more than 80 percent of the global online population participating on one or more social networking sites.

The potential to raise brand awareness through various social media sites is huge. Being able to stay in-touch with customers and connecting to them in a personal way makes a difference.

Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube allow your customers to interact with your brand and instantly comment and share your products, news, special offers and recommendations amongst their friends. If your products and services are appealing, fans and followers of your brand pages will “Like” “Share” “retweet” and “re-pin” helping your business to travel further than just your immediate business or social circle.

Social Media allows for two-way communication between businesses and their customers and is a lot quicker and more exciting to use than traditional websites. It’s a platform where you can be creative and draw attention to your brand.

Some of the benefits of using social media include:

  • The ability to targeted specific users
  • The ability to create strong brand awareness
  • The ability to share pictures, videos and stories
  • The ability to broadcast news, special offers, and promotions

Whether you are running a small business or large corporation, the importance of using social media should not be overlooked.
There are over 300 different social media sites available and it can be easy to get overwhelmed or distracted.

We suggest sticking to the most common sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs
  • Google+

Has your experience with social media been positive or negative?
Need more help or advice?
Comment below and let us know!

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting
Social Media Marketing Assistant