CNN Journalist Provides Career Advice to Knox Students

January 21, 2013

Christine Romans

CNN journalist Christine Romans offered job-seeking advice to Knox College students, saying that long before they graduate from Knox, they need to collect experiences and develop skills that appeal to prospective employers.

"There are four job-seekers for every available job," she said to the audience of roughly 300 students. "You have to start thinking (about) what is going to make you stand out. What about you and your experience at Knox College and your internships and your everything are going to make you stand out?"

Romans delivered her remarks for the annual John D. Carlin Career Development Forum. Her January 14 lecture was titled, "Being Smart to Find the Job You Want."

An Iowa native, Romans graduated from Iowa State University in 1993.

"My degree is in journalism and French. I'm the quintessential American liberal arts student," she said. "I was a newspaper editor. I did study abroad in France."

While in college, she worked for several newspapers, including the Des Moines Register. After listening to advice from an older friend, she shifted her career strategy, focusing less on newspaper journalism and more on international news and wire service work.

Romans now hosts CNN's Your Bottom Line, a personal finance and lifestyle program, and she reports on the economy, politics, and international business. Author of two books, she also received an Emmy Award in 2004 for "Exporting America," an examination of globalization and its impact on U.S. workers, and contributed to CNN's Peabody Award-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Today's employers, she told Knox students, are looking for individuals who have a good academic record, experience from multiple internships, and "soft skills," such as leadership and problem-solving abilities.

Many employers highly value the so-called STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering, and math -- and students with a degree in those areas are likely to earn more than other students, Romans said. Nevertheless, she urged them to follow the advice of billionaire Warren Buffett, who is well known for his investing success. He encourages people to follow their passion and "take the job you would take if you were independently wealthy."

Job-seeking Tips
from Christine Romans

  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately land your “dream job.”
  • Most job openings aren’t advertised, so ask around to find the unadvertised jobs.
  • Potential employers want to know what you will do for them, so market yourself and make clear how you can solve a company’s problem.
  • Develop “soft skills,” such as communication, leadership, and innovation, because they are highly valued by potential employers.
  • As Warren Buffett says, follow your passion and “take the job you would take if you were independently wealthy.”

"Your degree choice is an investment," she said.

Romans said that while government leaders from around the world are promoting the STEM fields and developing large numbers of scientists and engineers, other countries still don't innovate as well as the United States does.

"I think it's because of the liberal arts base -- the creativity, the independent thinking, communications, problem solving, failure, learning from failure, trying something new, diversity of opinion, diversity of background, entrepreneurship," she said.

Students said they appreciated hearing from Romans, who after her lecture also spoke with them at a book-signing.

Her lecture provided "a lot of information as to what we didn't know," said Angel Zuaznabal, a Knox sophomore from Miami, Florida. "I'm on the football team and I'm an RA (residence hall advisor), so it shows I have some soft skills. Knowing that I can put that stuff on my resume is helpful."

Brandi Pudlo, a first-year Knox student from Des Plaines, Illinois, said what she took away from Romans' lecture was this: "The future is scary, but I should continue to try to be in the field I want to be in, which is writing."

Romans' appearance at Knox was organized by the Bastian Center for Career & Pre-Professional Development. It was sponsored by the John D. Carlin Career Development Support Fund and the Office of the President.