How to kickstart your career in university
As the job market becomes more and more competitive, students are seeking to kickstart their careers earlier. They're diving headfirst into the job market, sans qualifications, eager to get ahead of the crowd. Although it could be seen as a little over-the-top to be so desperate so early, I get it because I'm one of them.
My tips for cracking the job market before graduating:
Firstly, I'd like to preface that this isn't about grad roles and internships, I'm talking genuine, long-term and paid positions that will provide invaluable experience and hopefully fulfilment.
1. Seek out work experience
I know I said you'd be getting paid, but a few months of work experience can provide you with the credibility you need to slide into a paid role. Firstly, decide what you have to offer and offer it up to local businesses free of charge. Find small businesses in your area that could be in need of some consulting, social media work, tech support, etc. and convince them you have a mutually beneficial proposal. If you're not sure what you have to offer, source work experience instead. Seek out opportunities to get yourself in a workplace environment, further grasp the field you think you'd like to work in, and continue finding your direction. To gain this use your connections, contact friends and family, lecturers and tutors, anyone you can think of that might be of some value.
2. Set up a Linked In
Linked In can be an extremely powerful tool when trying to sneak your way into the professional world. Create a profile and take it seriously. Fill out every inch of the profile, share relevant articles and discuss your achievements. When you think your profile is ready, connect with those you consider valuable contacts, message them, offer to take them to coffee and seek some advice.
3. Find the lowest ranking jobs in your chosen industry.
This can be accomplished in a few ways. Either seeking out administration roles and assistant roles within your field or simply the easiest or most junior positions specific to the industry. For example, in order to hack into the Marketing industry, I started as a freelance Social Media Manager doing unpaid work for local cafes. You definitely don't have to start unpaid, but if you don't have some work experience behind you, it may be your easiest option. The key is starting small. You're not ready to work for Amazon yet, acknowledge that and seek out small local businesses instead.
Note: These opportunities aren't always advertised, you might have to go after them. This includes contacting small businesses and selling yourself to them, connecting with HR department members on Linked In, etc.
4. Find mentors to help guide you further up the ranks
Most Universities have mentorship programs, which alumni offer to help guide current students through career choice, progression and professional life. This can provide you with incredible connections and support. Not only will it give you an insight into how this person achieved their career, but it also may provide you with the next steps in yours.
5. Don't be afraid of alternative education
A few quick certificates can go a long way in your career progression and employability. A short online course can provide some extra credibility, allowing you to progress up the ranks while still studying. I highly recommend those certificates by program developers that allow you to become experts in their platforms e.g. Google. Going right to the source will allow the most up-to-date and accurate learning experience.
6. BE CONFIDENT
This needs to be an imposter syndrome free zone. You need to own your student status. Being a student can be an advantage, you have the most up-to-date knowledge, you're committed to learning, you'll likely work for less, and you're obviously eager. You are a catch!