As the job market becomes more competitive, you can’t simply rely on the academic qualifications alone to get hired. However, solving the “no work – no experience and no experience – no work” paradox is another conundrum altogether.
While it’s not a must, having a track record in relevant areas of work is the number one criterion that employers look for in any candidate. That’s why many fresh graduates find themselves getting lost in the job hunt battle even before it starts.
It’s not an impossible mission to gain valuable experience while studying. In fact, there are many things you can do to build a CV that will help secure your dream job.
Work on your campus
Let’s take advantage of your own institution before jumping in the job search jungle. Although limited, some universities do offer on-campus jobs for students as a financial aid programme or an actual internship placement. Besides the general positions like library receptionist or IT lab assistants, you can also find academic jobs like research assistant or teaching assistant. Visit the counsellor office to get the information that you’ll need or seek advice directly from your professors.
Also, don’t just look for paid [career] opportunities unless you really need some sort of income to pay for tuition. Even if there is no official employment available in your university, you can still gain invaluable experiences through volunteer works or other student activities.
Assuming that your goals are to work on your resume and build meaningful relationships, you should consider taking up a position in a student organisation. Being a student ambassador can also help you develop your competence, especially people skills and communication skills.
Tip: If you want to have more exposure to the global environment, do check out AIESEC. They are a non-profit organisation that focuses on building leadership potential in students through international exchange programmes and internships.
Choose your internship wisely
As soon as you have decided on a course to major in, you need to start exploring the career options that you are interested in. While you can’t determine a career pathway to embark on immediately, you certainly can define the professions most central to what you study.
The most obvious way to kick-start your career before you officially graduate is through an internship. However, keep in mind that not all internships are created equal. There will be programmes where you can put your knowledge into practice and there will also be those that merely require you to perform the menial office tasks.
You should think of different ways to polish your resume to land an ideal internship. A rule of thumb is to keep up with changes in your field because textbooks are never going to be enough to prepare you for the actual industry demands. From there, you’ll be able to figure out the essential skills that you need to focus on in order to stay ahead of your peers the moment you hit the workforce.
Read more: How to Land a Rewarding Internship
Develop in-demand skills and showcase them
The race for employment has changed a lot along with the technology advancement. You don’t distribute your resumes door-to-door anymore, although some employers still practice walk-in interviews. Today, it’s all about the digital race.
From job search to personal development, the Internet is the ultimate resource to help you launch a career successfully. Almost anyone has Facebook and knows a thing or two about the digitalization trend across many businesses. If you can demonstrate the skills that are relevant to this digital age, you’ll instantly score a plus point in the eyes of recruiters (except for scientific or other research fields).
This is also a part of personal branding, in which you showcase your resume or portfolio online instead of the conventional job application. In brief, you may want to establish a personal website or blog to tell the world who you are. Have a knack for writing? Demonstrate your talent through regular blog posts. Passionate about marketing? Market yourself! Furthermore, how you manage your own social media platforms can reflect your capability when it comes to navigating the digital space.
Take the valuable time that you have outside the classroom to pick up these skills and try to practice them as much as you can. You don’t need to get a job to prove what you are capable of. We’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide to building your personal brand in the next article.
Find part-time or freelance jobs that add values
Last but not least, spending your semester breaks to work will help to strengthen your future employability as well. Many students actually regard part-time jobs as part of student life, not just for the monetary rewards but also to gain industrial experience.
However, there are only a handful of jobs that can bring benefits to your career prospects after graduating. While making money may sound tempting, try not to be occupied by those gigs. You must prioritise your study above all else.
For some professions, such as IT-related, design jobs or public relations, you can even look for freelance opportunities as they are aplenty. Whatever you decide to invest your time in, just make sure that you’ll get to learn something new. Don’t simply find a job without setting a specific goal. The most important skills that you should aim to develop through working part-time or freelance are:
- Time management
- Work ethic
- Planning and organising
Experiences are often earned, not gained. So don’t limit yourself to paid jobs. There are so many wonderful things you can do as a student to improve yourself while helping the community.