How to Prepare for Your First Job While You’re Still in School
With graduation fast approaching the race is on to get your first job. A handful of students will have their jobs already lined up from a past internship, but most students will be fiercely competing for the same opportunities. The good news is that there are four important things that you can do now to help you win that job!
1) Figure out where you want to be
If you love the big city and want to work in consulting, maybe New York, Boston, or Chicago is the place for you. Or if you are passionate about tech and having an outdoor lifestyle, Denver or Austin might be your city. You want to know where you want to live and work before you go job hunting . Be honest with yourself. There’s no point in spending your time applying to jobs in cities that won’t be a long-term fit for your career aspirations and lifestyle.
2) Get an internship
If you have enough time before you graduate, get an internship. Hands-on work experience is the best way to find out what you like to do for work. If completing an internship means that you delay your graduation by six months, it is likely worth it. Students who have work experience in their field of interest are more likely to get jobs after they graduate. Even if your internship is mostly data entry, it shows that you have industry knowledge and professional experience. Internships can also offer valuable connections to people who can support your career down the road.
There are amazing tools and resources online for whatever industry and profession you want to work in. By doing some internet research you can get yourself up to speed on industry terminology, companies, products, and services. If you’re interested in finance, check out a free stock trading simulator. If you’re pursuing a career in marketing, look for thought leaders who publish blogs or podcasts. Being fluent in the language and tools of your industry will make you a stronger candidate.
4) Ask for information interviews
It can be intimidating to ask people for their time. Even though everyone is busy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of professionals who are willing to offer career advice to students. Before you meet with your interviewee, make sure you do your homework. Have a good understanding of their career path and come prepared with questions. A connection you make through an information interview could lead to a future job or professional mentoring relationship.
Your education is only one step in a longer journey to career success. Make sure that your career planning not only includes school but also includes time spent outside of the classroom working on your job search.