As a student, you’re likely competing with hundreds of other students for roles that you need to gain valuable work experience. You may also not be completely clear on what you’re passionate about and what you want to do with your life just yet. That’s okay! The last thing you should do is follow a career path just because you think it’s what you want, without really exploring your options first.
But, you still need a job, so you still need to get your foot in the door. What are the best ways students can do this?
1. Hone your strengths.
Employers who are hiring students aren’t going to expect you to have killer work experience and certifications in a relevant subject. Instead, they’ll be looking ways in which you’ve set yourself apart from other students, and that can easily be done through extracurriculars and volunteer work.
The best way to demonstrate that you’re good at what you say you are is to join relevant clubs and organizations. Try to avoid just being a general member – employers will be more interested in leadership positions that have helped you develop your strengths. A great role that can really demonstrate your potential is one that allows you to network with employers, such as a position on the sponsorship team for a student-run conference.
2. Explore your interests.
Do your best to engage in activities that mean more to you than just padding your resume. This is an amazing time to seek out opportunities that engage and excite you so that you can get a better sense of what your true passions are. The more you try, the better, because you never know which opportunity could lead to you discovering what you really want. Volunteering your time to causes you’re interested in is never a waste, and as a bonus, you’ll be able to connect with key players in your community who you can learn from!
3. Attend job expos, career fairs, and networking events.
My top tip: go anywhere that employers will be. A great way to stand out is by ordering business cards for yourself and proactively getting yourself out there! The bigger your network, the better. Having a cultivated network coming out of school will put you miles ahead of everyone else: over 80% of job opportunities filled through networking or referrals!
4. Leverage your network.
Now’s a great time to talk to your parents, family friends, and their connections about opportunities. Everyone has to start somewhere, and these people can provide you with the valuable resources and referrals you may need to get a top internship this summer. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to find a job that fits perfectly with your career goals. What’s more important is that you gain some basic, transferrable skills that you can apply to future positions. Be prepared to take the position you weren’t necessarily expecting and use it as a springboard to greater things! Studies show that you are five times more likely to get hired through a referral.
5. Create a portfolio.
An awesome way to showcase your talents is to build an online portfolio that includes all of the work you’ve done. If you’re interested in writing and communications, try your hand at blogging so that you can build a platform that shows how passionate you are about what you do. The same goes for marketing and graphic design. Being able to draw employers’ attentions to your strengths can really set you apart if you don’t have practical work experience.
Students – I want to hear from you! What strategies have you used to get hired? Do you have any questions about job searching that I can help with? Let me know in the comments section!