Although college and university give you the skills you need to do great work in your field, they often doesn’t focus on the professional skills young workers need to be competitive when they’re job hunting, such as teamwork, leadership and career planning skills.
Tracey Lloyd, Director of the Alternative Youth Centre for Employment (AYCE), a non-profit employment centre in Toronto, and instructor for the Career Readiness and Advancement summer workshop at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, says students need to be more proactive and start their career planning while they’re still in school.
Bottom line: If you want to be competitive when searching for a summer job or entry-level role, you can’t start in April.
Use work experience and activities to build your network
Like her co-instructor Karen, Tracey recommends building professional networks very early on in your career. You can use summer jobs and extra-curricular activities as a means to increase your network as well as build on your networking skills.
Develop a plan
Develop a plan for what kind of job you want and where you want to be in a few weeks, months and years. This can help you maintain a focus and reach your goals. Do not say you will do anything unless you really mean you will do anything—most people have certain kinds of work they prefer or would like to avoid. Also, not every job will be beneficial to your career as a whole.
Using your community or campus career centres to help you make a plan will give you a leg up because you’ll have someone supporting and motivating you as well as providing you with possible job leads.
Use your resources
Students often do not utilize the free services that are available to them at their campus career centres, as well as those that are offered in their community. Both resources can help students and new grads customize their resumés, cover letters, interview skills as well as help them find a job.
Don’t forget there are some good online resources that students can use as well, such as TalentEgg!
Develop your leadership skills
No matter where you are in an organization, use your leadership skills to stand out. Take initiative in your role and illustrate to your employers that you are an excellent employee.
Many of your leadership skills can be developed further outside of the workplace by joining professional organizations and volunteering in your spare time.
If you’re thinking about continuing education, check back next week for a series of articles and videos about how to build on your undergraduate education, or shift gears completely, using continuing education