Starting Your Career With The First Job: Tips for Students

By Melissa Burns

Much good can be said about student’s life: that it is exciting, that it lets you meet a lot of new people and try out a lot of new things; but it certainly isn’t easy. And one of the most important reasons why it is so is that nowadays you are expected to start making a career even before you graduate – on top of all other responsibilities and problems students have. So, how can you do it? Let us review a few opportunities.

1.    Use Your College’s Career Services Office

Yes, it sounds self-evident and barely deserving a mention; however, only about a third of all students ever use its services, despite it being literally a stone’s throw away. The range of things it can help you with is impressive: everything from assisting with resume writing to helping you prepare to job interviews. The most important asset, however, is their alumni database – they may even get you in touch with an alumnus working in your desired field who can help you land a job you want.

2.    Get an Internship

Most students agree that going through an internship or two is extremely important for improving the chances of landing a good job after graduating. However, only a fraction of them report to have landed a single internship by the end of their time at college.

What’s so good about being an intern? You get a chance to work for a well-reputed company you would otherwise have no chance of getting into, receive experience and, probably most importantly, get to add a few lines to your resume. You may not get much out of it financially, but you improve your own standing and reputation – the same way people behind a website that provides free marketing services don’t get paid for what they do but gain traction as influencers in their field.

3.    Use LinkedIn

One of the most widely reported career building mistakes students make, as reported by experts, is that they spend inordinate amounts of time on entertainment social medial like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and suchlike – while they should be using LinkedIn. By the time you are nearing graduation, you absolutely must have your account up and running for some time, but it is much better to do so when you are still a freshman – thus you will have more time to build up your network and promote yourself.

4.    Use Your Personal Networks

A great lot of students don’t take more effort to land a job than what is required for sending a resume through a company’s website. When the company doesn’t get back to them, they shrug and accept it. Instead, you can use your personal network. Do you know somebody who knows somebody who works for a company you want to work for? Reach out, try to meet them in person. These kinds of weak, almost imperceptible connections open up a much greater world than you could believe.

5.    Find a Mentor

And by mentor we don’t mean a parent or a friend, unless they already work in the field you want to work in and have achieved significant success in it. Mentor is somebody who already does what you intend to do and already achieved what you hope to achieve. Somebody who can give you real, practicable advice – not generalities. The best way to find them is social networking, so use every opportunity to get acquainted with the people from the field that interests you.

In the long run, success in starting a career as a student requires all the usual things: initiative, flexible thinking, readiness to make mistakes. If you have these traits, you have everything.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented.


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