So you’re in college, learning the ins and outs of your field in order to have the best possible chance of getting hired after you graduate. You’re already taking steps in the right direction by working toward a degree in the first place, so what more can you do? Many industries can be very competitive, especially for entry-level jobs. Here are some tips for getting your first job after college.
Nothing says “Hire me” like experience. It’s true that companies may not expect you to have a professional background fresh out of college, but if you do—to any extent, thanks to an internship or related job you worked while in school—you’re already a step ahead of the game. You can find internships during the summer or take a semester off to work, and in doing so, gain valuable problem-solving and professional skills you wouldn’t have otherwise. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a process.
Elizabeth Muckensturm, a lecturer at Coastal Carolina University in the Department of Communication, Languages and Culture, explains that finding internships requires concentrated effort, but it’s well worth it.
“Even if an internship doesn’t lead to a job at that company, it is so important to make connections and network with people in the field. I have known so many students that found other jobs from people they worked with at an internship,” she said.
Study or work abroad.
There’s no denying that globalization is happening a rapid rate, with the advent of the internet, technology, and all that comes with it. So what can you do to be a part of it?
First, learn another language to proficiency. Would you be interested in working in Europe? How about South America or Asia? No matter your field, your appeal increases considerably to global companies, and local companies with global reach, just in being able to cut through communication barriers.
Also, if possible, study abroad. You’ll not only be immersed in another language, but also in a new culture, with different norms, expectations and processes. You’ll have to adapt—and that’s a good thing. Plus, if your mind is open, you might be seduced by the beauty of your destination country … and never want to return.
Muckensturm also suggests that students take an intercultural communication class.
“It teaches students the differences between how other countries communicate both verbally and nonverbally,” she said. She also advocates following world news.
Sure, college is supposed to be one of the greatest periods of your life. And it is. Take advantage of all that it has to offer, but don’t let your studies suffer. Whether or not you realize it, it’s also a very pivotal time, one that will decide to an extent what paths you can take.
“Companies like to see a strong work ethic and a hardworking student,” Muckensturm said. “In addition to hard work, making connections outside of the university, building a network and focusing on relationship will pay off when the job market seems tough.”
In other words, try not to burn bridges.
What you’re studying, the people you meet, whether or not you obtain your degree—even though these may not make or break your future (there are always options for those who think outside the box), it will certainly open and close doors. And the idea is that you want to keep as many doors open as possible.
College is unparalleled for personal growth and development. Make the most of it by expanding your professional and global scope, challenging yourself, and having fun.
College students, what are you doing to prepare for your career? And grads, what advice do you have for current students?
Renee Cole – Content Creator