Ways to Start Preparing for Your Career While Still in CollegeBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
In today's ultra-competitive job market, it's more important than ever for college students to make themselves marketable. What does this mean? It's about selling your skills and value to potential employers while you're still in school. This applies to both undergraduate and graduate students, particularly those who immediately transfer into a master's program and have yet to start actively working in their field.
Your future career may look different than you think; you might even wind up working in an industry completely unrelated from your major. That's okay. Life is full of surprises and adventure, and you shouldn't put yourself in a box that leaves little room for growth or change in the future. You may be in your early 20s, or you could be in college hoping for a career change. Whatever the case, this article will help you start making yourself a desirable job candidate before you graduate.
Use Summers Wisely
Everyone enjoys a few months free of responsibility, but the summer is prime time to land an internship and get work experience. If you do well enough, your internship could even turn into your first career after graduation. Start looking for summer internships early in the year. Most companies have secured their summer interns by spring. If you already have a job, interning isn't entirely out of the question. Remote internships for college students are more flexible, so you can do them while working your regular job or raising a family. They provide just as much relevant experience and great references. Aim to complete at least two internships before you graduate; this could give you four to six months of industry experience that will look great on your resume. You'll also get the chance to network with real professionals in the field, many of whom may help connect you with potential opportunities in the future.
Start Developing Skills School Doesn't Teach You
In this day and age, it's not practical to expect college to teach you everything. There are so many rapidly evolving skills in the tech sphere that degree curriculums frankly can't keep up with. This is why you often see colleges teaching students' programs that are two or three years outdated. There's nothing wrong with using slightly older software to learn basic principles, but you'll likely struggle in the workplace if your knowledge is nearing the half-decade mark.
Stay current on best practices and relevant technology in your desired field. What software and programs are professionals using the most? How can you get ahead of the curve? Maybe a certification is valuable, or perhaps you can learn some skills that will be beneficial to your future employer. Software that can convert video to text or even French audio to text, is an asset you can use as a marketer, journalist, researcher and so much more. It is fast, efficient and saves both time and money. Companies appreciate employees whose productivity hacks benefit them just as much.
Find a mentor on LinkedIn, or reach out to someone from your school's alumni community. Establishing professional relationships while you're still a student will provide greater opportunity and insight later. You'll be able to reach out to your connections when you're looking for a job, and you just may wind up being recommended for a position before it's even been posted online. Having an inside connection also gives you a higher chance of getting hired; companies that value their employees will take their recommendations into strong consideration while reviewing candidates.