50 Best Colleges for African Americans

A solid education, matched with the right opportunities, creates successful collegians. Here are some strategies students should employ as they move from the college campus to the corner office and beyond.

out other leadership roles. Keep in mind that effective time management is a must. The rewards are limitless: You get to attend conferences, write speeches, participate in panels, and make executive decisions. “Getting involved in various professional associations allows you to connect upward with deans and alumni,” says John Mixon, vice president and client service consultant at Atlanta-based Right Management Consultants. “You have to look at everyone as an opportunity.”

Build your resumé. Your resumé is a vehicle to showcase skills relative to the position for which you are applying, your coursework, and it provides a mission statement of what you expect to accomplish. When developing your resumé, make sure it’s “free of spelling and grammatical errors, eliminate abbreviations, and do not overinflate accomplishments,” says Smith. Create a general resumé that highlights skills and experiences as well as one tailored to specific career goals.

Tighten your interviewing skills. First impressions are lasting ones. Preparing for an interview is a detailed process. “Research the organization [and] its vision and values,” says Kim Wells of Howard University Career Services. “You want to identify organizations that have a perfect place for you, so look at reference guides and resources.” Visit sites like www.salary.com for figures and read Job Interviews Made Easy by Jan Bailey Mattia (McGraw Hill; $7.44).

Wear appropriate dress to the interview. “Wearing pants down to your knees may be stylish, but it’s not professional,” says Mixon. “Being well-groomed is [extremely important] because wherever you are, people are making a judgment [about you], without even talking to you.”

LEON MASSEY, Florida A&M University, Computer Information Systems, Senior Year
About a month ago, Leon Massey received his diploma from Florida A&M University, and has just started working at Lockheed Martin Corp., the $31.8 billion aeronautics juggernaut. Having been recruited by INROADS right out of high school, Massey gained an edge over most of his competition. The 23-year-old notes, however, that “it’s up to the INROADer to be able to successfully pass, know how to mingle and have a balance.”

Initially, it was difficult for Massey to gain balance because “I would stay in, or go to the library and do miscellaneous research.” But he soon got disgusted with the work and learned “you have to go out and have fun and meet people.” After two internships — one with Cingular Wireless and the other with Lockheed — he’s quick to speak, melding into the corporate culture as an African American professional. “When you’re interviewed, know your research, know your competitors, give a firm handshake,” he says. “Be business-oriented.”

Even though it may sound like common sense, lots of students don’t know these simple but critical rituals. Massey learned them well. Now he’s using his knowledge in computer information systems to work on sophisticated, computer-aided integration management software.

He appears ready to handle the corporate environment with an unyielding confidence and strong cultural ties — by-products of his education at an HBCU. “[In] history classes, there would be a picture [or] a short paragraph [about African American contributions] and that was it,” he

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