By Alex Pejak.
Alex is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia. She is passionate about market research and career development. She is also interested in topics related to project management and business IT.
As you study it’s always an excellent idea to keep the next step in mind. What will you do once you graduate? If you’re like most students, you’re planning to find a job and start a career. Yet we live in a very competitive economy and many students are finding that careers do not simply appear out of thin air upon graduation. The best jobs go to those who began preparing long before it came time to find one. To make sure you land the kind of position you’re hoping to get, it’s a good idea to start working on your career now, while you’re still in school.
In general, the most important and most effective ways of setting yourself up for post-graduation success involve building up your skills and experience in the field you’d like to work in. This gives you confidence in your choice of career, and shows employers that you’re ready. Also, the experience you gain during your studies will ensure you know the industry’s leaders, language, and trends, which will help you choose the best employer for you rather than finding yourself looking for the one with the largest career-fair booth.
1. Do The Best Job You Can
The simplest method of setting yourself up for a smooth transition to the working world is simply putting in the effort during school. By being diligent, getting good grades, and participating both on and off campus, you start attracting fans and building up a network… people who will be eager to help you succeed later.
Sometimes, you may even find the organizations you volunteered at will want to hire you right out of school. Compared with sending out hundreds of CVs and sitting through dozens of interviews, this can be a highly appealing proposition.
In other cases, you’ll find your experiences mean that club leaders, peers, and professors will give you glowing references, and will help to mentor you as part of their own legacy. The resulting experiences will make for wonderful stories in job interviews, and your accomplishments will look excellent on your CV and in cover letters.
2. Intern or Volunteer In Your Time Off
Often, the classic “student jobs” like bartending or retail have no connection to the career you want to pursue later. There are few better ways to explore an interesting-sounding career, on the other hand, than interning or volunteering in a related position. Make a point of spending your summers and breaks in positions, even if they’re unpaid, which have a connection to the career you want to pursue.
Since applying to internships is nearly identical to applying for a regular job — you’ll require a good quality CV and cover letter, and you may need to show language or computer certificates — the process will also provide valuable practice for the working world later.
3. Go Abroad
Interning or volunteering abroad is a little more complicated, to be sure. However, expanding your horizons and learning to work in a different culture is always a valuable personal development experience and highly attractive to employers. Showing experience abroad on your CV will convey to potential employers that you can work well in nearly any situation, that you’re more well-rounded and balanced than most other candidates. This marks you as a candidate for leadership and management from day one.
Better still, going abroad is not as difficult as it sounds. While you will likely require translated copies of your CV, cover letter, references, certificates, and such, online translation makes this fast and easy. Additionally, once you’ve found a position in a foreign country, the firm will likely have resources to help you arrange a visa, accommodation, and the like.
4. Pick Your Classes Wisely
Last but not least, though it may seem obvious to some, your choice of classes is an excellent way to work on your career as you study. You can use your classes as a way of learning about the current trends, major players, and language of the fields that interest you. Look at which classes have a practical application to your field of choice, and focus on those. Particularly in business classes, the materials you read may be the same things that shaped the management ideals of the companies you will go work for.
In many respects, the best ways of preparing yourself for a future career as you study are the simplest: put in as much work as you can, take every chance you get to gain hands-on experience in the field. The exception, studying or working abroad, is a little more involved but also one of the most rewarding. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that going abroad is so beneficial because there are hurdles involved — most candidates you’ll be competing against won’t bother. Keep this principle in mind as you study, too. By looking for opportunities that most people can’t be bothered to take, it’s easy to give yourself a big advantage.