Some people treat college more like an extended vacation than a training ground, but a lackluster academic career doesn't have to bar you...

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NEW YORK — Some people treat college more like an extended vacation than a training ground, but a lackluster academic career doesn’t have to bar you from success. There are ways to shed your underachiever image and earn the recognition you crave.

Ron Bliwas, CEO of the advertising agency A. Eicoff & Co. and author of the book, “The C-Student’s Guide to Success,” offers former slackers four strategies for getting ahead.

• Find a place where you can shine. Big-name corporations are the habitat of academic all-stars, which makes them difficult places for average students to stand out.

Bliwas recommends starting your career at a smaller firm that will nurture your talent. Hint: The faster the company is growing, the more responsibility you’re likely to get once you’ve proved yourself.

• Become the go-to expert. To distinguish yourself, be the resident expert on a topic relevant to your firm’s business that others know little about. For instance, if an important client sells tires, learn everything about the tire-manufacturing business. If you get the inside story, colleagues will consult you whenever the subject arises.

• Demonstrate your character. Many careers stall when they hit what Bliwas calls a “character ceiling.” Your boss is unlikely to promote you to a position of leadership if you’ve shown you can’t get along with your peers.

One of the best ways to impress higher ups is to demonstrate integrity in your business dealings. Don’t gossip, avoid office politics, accept responsibility for your actions and, above all, “make as few enemies as possible.”

• Take the crooked path. While Ivy League graduates often steadily move up the ladder at one company, lesser mortals have to be prepared for roadblocks and detours on the road to success, Bliwas says.

If you can’t get the job you want right out of the gate, concentrate on making yourself a “marketable commodity.” Take a series of positions that will teach you the skills required to enter your chosen field and continue working toward your goal.