BY MELISSA BURNS
Times, when any college graduate was sure to get a job, are long past; with the job market today being what it is, the earlier you start thinking and, better yet, doing something about your future employment, the higher your chances of getting a position you like. Whether you are a freshman or a final year student, summer is the perfect time to do something extra to ensure your future employment, as there is more free time and you generally have a less constrained schedule. So what can you do this summer?
1. Get an Internship
Students are often unwilling to take internships because they are afraid they will be stuck performing menial (and often unpaid) tasks, treated condescendingly and in general not receive their due. However, internships don’t necessarily have to pay in cash or even credits. They provide enough benefits of their own: they teach you time management skills, you get real work experience, build up your professional network, add to your resume, and it all serves as building blocks for your future career. Even if you aren’t paid a dime for your work, you significantly increase the chances of getting employment in future. If you demonstrate decent skills, you may even secure employment in a company you’ve been temping for.
Spending a summer volunteering may not be as relaxing as staying at an Alaska fishing lodge, but it is indeed more productive for your future employment. First of all, it looks good on your resume and helps fill in glaring employment gaps. Doing volunteering work demonstrates ambition and readiness for new experiences; it enables you to obtain new skills (project and team management, social skills), find new contacts that may come in handy later on and in general, gives you additional self-confidence.
3. Learn a Language
Well, a summer certainly won’t be enough to master a new language, but from now on you will rarely have so much free time in bulk. If you choose what studies you want to pursue and make an energetic move in that direction you can lay a solid foundation to build on at your leisure later on. Sign up for an intensive course, join a language immersion program, or go to a foreign country for a few months. Your main goal is to overcome entry-level hurdles – it is the most difficult part of learning any language. After you acquire basic competencies, you can study on with less intensity. After you manage to pass an exam of any level in your chosen language, it will look perfect on your resume.
4. Get a Smart Part-Time Job
Part-time jobs are an age-old tradition for college students, but waiting tables or flipping burgers won’t move you much closer to landing that much-desired position you’ve been thinking about. If you want your part-time job to be something more than a way to earn a few extra bucks for current expenses, you should set smart goals and choose smart positions. Find an entry-level job that is in any way relevant to the industry you intend to work in, learn the necessary skills, and show that you qualify. In addition to improving your resume, it will give you the real experience of what it is like to work in this industry, and you’ll see whether you really want it.
Students today should start preparing for their future jobs long before they graduate from college – even the first year isn’t too early. And the earlier you understand that summer isn’t the time to relax but to further improve your chances, the more likely you are to land your dream job.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org