Often, the only career advice a college student receives is, ‘just get a job’, preferably in your field. Students are thrown out into the world upon graduation with little knowledge or direction about what it takes to truly succeed in a cutthroat and competitive race. Just getting a job, turns into settling for less than you are worth because you do not realize that you have options. While there are options, it is a competitive market, especially with the economy the way it is today. If you are a college student who truly hopes to succeed off campus, there are a few things you must do first to ensure that success.
This is generic career advice that we have all heard numerous times, but it is so important for the student who is aiming to be a future employee. Internships, volunteer positions, and summer jobs fill in the gaps on your resume and show that you are driven to succeed. Look for opportunities in your field, even if it is unpaid. When you enter the rat race you will be going up against prospective employees who have more experience that you, graduated before you, and want the position more than you. Every edge helps.
Revamp your Resume.
Today’s job market is very different than it was even a few years back. Gone are the days of generic resumes with education, employment and skills headings. Today resumes are meant to make a big impact on employers and often times they are hosted online. While I suggest still having a paper CV, consider creating an impactful online resume as well. There are a plethora of sites that will host your resume for free or you can create a web page and host it there.
Create a portfolio.
Along with your electronic resume, you should create an interactive portfolio of your work. Samples of things you have worked on or created, outlines of your accomplishments, written pieces, etc. are all great ways to get a prospective employer’s attention. This is especially important advice if you are entering a creative field, such as marketing or journalism.
Socialize Outside Social Media.
While networking online can be a valuable tool, face-to-face interactions are very important. Networking will become one of the biggest factors in the success of your career, no matter what your chosen field. Putting yourself out there and interacting on a personal level helps people remember who you are. It creates a deeper connection that a Facebook picture. Consider getting a mentor in the field that lives the lifestyle you desire; this will open doors that would otherwise remain tightly closed.
Don’t Settle for Something You Don’t Love.
Life is too short to ‘just get a job’. Sure, a paycheck is important, especially with student loans piling up, but if you settle for something you hate you are not going to last anyway. With that said, you need to expect that you will not be walking into your ideal position. However, if your ideal position is something you can work toward within the company then you are on the right track.
Learn the Power of Hard Work.
It is tempting when you first finish college and get a good job to want to spend, party and have fun with friends. Understand that hard work today, means freedom tomorrow. Sacrificing your weekends may seem like a bore, but it will pay off in the long-run when you have the freedom to do what you want when you want. You should be focused on working hard and proving yourself to a company now so that you don’t have to down the road.