Liz Ryan
Liz Ryan

BOULDER, Colo. –

Boulder’s Liz Ryan is a former Fortune 500 human-resources executive, a syndicated columnist and a career adviser. Every Monday and Wednesday, she’ll dish out job-hunting advice for college students.

Q: I want a job in an exciting industry, but all I see posted are boring office jobs. What do you suggest?

A: Take the least boring office job you can find and wend your way closer to your dream job with each new job you take.

You’d be surprised how little our outsiders’ impressions of firms and industries overlap with the actual working experience.

I had a blast working at a modem company, and many people are having a blast right now working at companies that make lots of other boring stuff.

It’s not the product; it’s the people, the leadership and the culture. Good lesson for young people of all ages.

Q: Should I mention the company that I started while I was in college (a delivery service) in my cover letter or on my resume? I’ve shut it down now.

A: Mention it! Talk about what you had to do to get the company started — how you got the idea for the business — and what you learned from the experience. Employers (the best ones, anyway) love an entrepreneurial spirit.

Put that on your resume front and center.

Q: Every summer when I’ve gone home I’ve worked in my dad’s business. Does it look bad for me to say that on my resume?

A: Not at all, and why do you need to say it’s your dad’s business? Unless the company name and your last name are the same, no one will know that.

Even if it is your family business with your surname on it, you can talk about what you learned for the first time each summer, and how you took on more responsibility each year (you did that, right?).

Don’t use your dad as a reference, though — get someone else in the business to talk about your work with prospective employers.

Got questions? E-mail them to