Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 28, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Commentary: Student offers tips for survival in a crowded workforce

When a job recruiter looks at a student’s resume and glances upon the skills section, something the recruiter almost always sees is “proficient in Microsoft Office.”

If a recruiter glances at the skills section of another student’s resume, and it says something along the lines of “Microsoft Office Specialist for Office Excel 2010 Expert,” that resume will probably go to the top of the list. This title indicates the applicant has a skill that a recruiter may want, and that person may get the job over everyone else because of it.

The workforce is now more competitive than ever before. More people are going to college and, unless students are attending a top-tier college or university whose affiliation indicates competitiveness, prospective job applicants need to have something that shows they can compete with the best.

Fortunately for Ithaca College students, the School of Business offers an opportunity to earn a Microsoft Specialist Certification. For just $25, students can take an exam that shows whether or not they have the skills necessary to efficiently operate a specific Office program. There are also the expert certifications that go a step further, determining whether people have advanced knowledge of programs that common users lack.

The Microsoft Specialist Certifications were introduced to the college’s business school in 2012. According to Professor William Tastle, in the future, every student in the Business Systems and Technology course will be required to take the Microsoft Excel Expert exam. Also, a prerequisite to entering the course will be core certification in Excel and one other Microsoft Office product.

For all students, Microsoft Excel is one of the more useful programs to be certified in. Business students hear it all the time from their professors that Excel is one of the most valuable programs in corporate America. It allows accountants to balance budgets, managers to organize schedules and researchers to create interactive maps.

Why on Earth would a college student pay to take an exam? Don’t they take enough exams already? This is how I felt at first, but then I looked at my resume and realized that I was one of those common students that claimed to be “proficient in Microsoft Office.” As a senior business student who may be entering the workforce soon, I wanted to differentiate myself from the competition as much as possible in order to be successful. This motivated me to take the test and become the first student the business school to earn an expert certification by Microsoft.

Something that many students fail to realize is that they are not just competing against their peers. Students from Ithaca College are competing with those from SUNY-Cortland, Binghamton University, Cornell University and every other college in the country. If there is anything you can do to separate yourself, even if it is something as small as a leadership position or a Microsoft Office certification, it will help in the long run. Employers like to see students show some initiative. They want to see students go above and beyond expectations. If you can show this to someone, your future will be very promising.