For all the recent college graduates, school has consumed the majority of their life and as soon as they step off the stage, there’s no line leader to follow. Most graduates have a lot to consider when taking that next step. Societal expectations suggest graduates jump right into a career, but with little industry experience and a lot of education, students are blindly applying to jobs they think could be interesting and in the end find themselves stuck.
You know it’s time for a change when the only interaction you have with a company is the automated thank you note acknowledging your online application. Companies are looking for experience and years under your belt, but how can students get experience where opportunities are not given? This frustrating observation gives way when you think outside of the box and recognize the importance of actively engaging yourself.
Here are a few opportunities that will help you to showcase your skills and bolster your line of experience:
Temporary positions offer ‘real-life’ experience and the flexibility to try out different company cultures. Often, temp positions come with a generous hourly wage and full-time business hours with the potential of it turning into a permanent position. Take advantage of temporary positions during breaks, summer months, or the time after graduation. This can help you to gain insight into a field you may have considered but need to learn more about. Whether the position is for 4 weeks or a year, this experience is something that can open the eyes of a growing professional.
Internships are like trials, paid or unpaid, with the freedom to explore different organizations, industries, and career options. Internships are imperative to identifying what you like and more importantly, what you don’t like in a job.
Shadowing is a lower level of commitment, anywhere from a few hours to a full day, but gives insight to a day-in-the-life of a prospective career without getting your hands too dirty. Don't be afraid to reach out to professionals in an industry of interest!
Informational Interviews are a great first step when figuring out which direction to head in. Sitting down with an industry thought leader can be a priceless opportunity to learn more about the pros and cons from an experienced perspective. Make sure you come well prepared with questions, a pad of paper, and a pen! You don’t know where this interview may lead you, but it doesn’t hurt to get your foot in the door.
It may take some time, but it’s important to create your own experience and make yourself visible within the prospective industry. Establishing these connections will give you a competitive edge and many times it’s all about who you know.