People keep telling you that education is necessary for the job you need. They are right. You do need education to develop relevant skills, as well as a great base of knowledge for the career you have in mind. You definitely build the knowledge and some skills through the college courses you take, but you know what? That’s not enough.
When a recent graduate faces the job market, he is usually disappointed with the option he has. All good positions include requirements for experience. When you’re just out of college, you don’t have much experience to include in the resume, so you’re left with no other option than to start applying to entry positions that are far beyond your level.
Is there a way to avoid this situation? Can you break the vicious circle of constant rejections for jobs you know you’re qualified for? There is only one way for you to enter the job market as an attractive candidate: you need to gain experience and develop more skills while you’re still in college.
But, how are you supposed to work when all you can think of is your studies? Don’t worry, there is a way.
How to Gain Relevant Job Experience During College
1. Get Involved in Community Organizations
Research shows that volunteer rates among 20- to 24-year-olds are the lowest (18.4%). The most probable reason behind such a low rate is the fact that college students are occupied with studying and partying. Be honest, though: you do get free time throughout your studies. Sometimes you use it to hang out with your friends, watch Game of Thrones, or just stare in the clouds with no purpose. It’s time to give real purpose to the free time you get. The best way to do that is to take part in activities in community or student organizations.
What interests do you have? Start with the directory of student organizations at your college, and continue exploring the community organizations in your area. Which groups support the interests you have? Pick an organization that would look great in your resume, and become an activist. Your contributions to a cause will show your skills in teamwork and leadership. All hiring managers appreciate applicants who have taken part in organization of projects and events.
2. Join a research project
Remember: most college professors are researchers, too! If you get a chance to assist them during a project, you’ll gain valuable experience and recommendations that any organization would appreciate. It’s difficult to secure such a position, since professors usually decide to invite few talented students. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on this opportunity.
Talk to the secretary of the relevant department and ask if you can take part in a research project as an undergraduate assistant. If you have a favorite professor who has acknowledged your potential, then you can go directly to him/her.
Everyone hates them, but no one can deny that internships are the most valuable opportunity to gain relevant experience before hitting the job market. You need to start looking for internships as early as possible. Maybe you won’t get money as an intern, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be wasting your time.
An internship in an organization relevant to your career path provides you with the skills and experience you need. Moreover, you’ll also develop an important network of contacts. Who knows, maybe some of the organizations that accept you as an intern will also be interested to hire you upon graduation.
4. Start a blog
Every student should start a blog. Think about it: if you write a blog in the niche you’ve chosen and you educate other people how to solve problems and develop skills, then you’re already an authority in the industry. Needless to say, you’ll need to make this blog really successful if you want to impress hiring managers in future. Blogging requires tons of time and energy, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Pick a niche related to the career you want to pursue. Start publishing awesome articles and promote the blog through social media, LinkedIn, and SEO strategies. A blog shows that you’re experienced and knowledgeable. It shows your capacity to research and find solutions to different problems. As it gets more popular, your authority will rise and it will make you look really good in the eyes of a potential employer.
5. Get summer jobs
For most students, summer is all about relaxation. For others, it’s an opportunity to earn money and gain valuable experience. Of course, you want to rest, but a summer job won’t take the entire day. Be careful: you need to find a summer job that will offer valuable experience related to the career you have in mind, so forget about bartending as the most obvious choice for a summer job.
Start applying to part-time positions related to the career you have in mind. If, for example, you’re interested in a business career, you can hunt for assisting positions in hotel management or any other industry that shows you how a business functions.
A summer job will teach you a lot about responsibility. Even if it’s not directly related to your career field, it still shows a hiring manager that you have soft skills that are transferable into different positions.
Don’t Give Up!
If you still haven’t found your calling and you don’t know what career to focus on, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build some experience during college. In such case, it’s important to experiment. As Jon Stewart says, “I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything.” So, discover some opportunities through the methods listed above and try!