On the first day of his January Interim Experience class, visiting faculty member Bob Molhoek asked students one simple question: “Why should I hire you?”
By the end of the month he hoped to see answers that went beyond “hardworking,” “detail-oriented,” and “team player” – common descriptors that do nothing to differentiate job candidates from other applicants. His course focused on helping students brand, market, and sell themselves to get the job of their dreams.
“‘Brand’ is the space you want to occupy in someone’s mind,” Molhoek explained. “I want to help students understand what makes them distinctive and how to show that to potential employers.”
In addition to helping students discern and communicate their unique skills, Molhoek coached them on using “life hacks” such as breathing and posture techniques to overcome anxiety and project a calm, professional demeanor in high-stakes meetings. The class also watched and analyzed videos on sales psychology, marketing, and persuasion to learn about making impressions and reading people. The main assignment for each student was simple: set up eight informational interviews so they could put theory into action.
Throughout the month, Molhoek also brought in eight guest speakers from a variety of corporate backgrounds to present to the class. These real-world examples showed students the behind-the-scenes thought processes that go into business development, sales, and hiring.
“Being exposed to all the options and learning about the professionals’ career paths was very helpful,” first-year student Yeng Lee said.
First-year student Blake Chinelly agreed. “This class helped me get a jump start on the job search process,” he said. “I’m looking forward to making connections, networking, and continuing to build relationships throughout the rest of my time at Gustavus.”
After a chance meeting with Molhoek on campus, Head Football Coach Peter Haugen brought his entire coaching staff to sit in on one of the class sessions. “Bob’s message really affirmed how important relationships and authenticity are in whatever you do,” Haugen said.
A 1993 graduate of Gustavus, Molhoek played hockey and lacrosse, was a member of the Phi Alpha fraternity, and served as a peer assistant during his time on campus. He spent his career in advertising and marketing, including stints as the chief marketing officer and senior vice president for strategic growth at Olson before launching his own company, iMyne, in 2011. With his extensive background in advertising, marketing, and brand management, he saw an opportunity to give back to his alma mater by teaching a January Interim course.
“I want students to start their entry into the real world early,” Molhoek said. “College is the perfect time to learn about yourself while also getting ready for the next step.”
Haugen summarized what it means to have engaged alumni like Molhoek who are willing to share their gifts with the next generation of Gustavus students. “Great leaders make themselves available and look to serve others,” he said. “It’s good for our students to see that you can be very successful while still being true to yourself and your values.”
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin