University students – getting a degree is only part of the battle in your journey towards employability.
If you want to stand out from a sea of applicants in the job hunt, there’s a lot more to it than getting good grades to be prepared for your next phase in life. It helps to identify your interests, likes and dislikes, so you can strike with precision when the time comes – i.e. apply to the right jobs to fit your interest and personality.
So, you may harbour an interest to become a professional party planner or to work in corporate communications, but how sure are you that that’s the right career fit?
Here are four ways to start researching your chosen career before you graduate:
Get some experience
Experience is the best teacher, so while you’re still in university, it pays to get an internship at your chosen field of interest.
An internship is an opportunity to speak with people who are doing what you’d like to do, learn about the challenges of the industry, find out what are the skills that will give you an advantage in addition to serving as a platform to build your connections.
You may find on the job that a particular career may not be right for you, but that’s OK. An internship gives you time to do some self-reflection and explore other career pathways if the first one isn’t a good fit.
Network, network, network
There’s no denying that networking can be daunting, especially if you’re an introvert. But whether you realise it or not, networking is crucial for anyone at any point in their life, and this includes university students.
Networking isn’t about making short term connections, but building lasting ones and exchanging resources with one another.
You don’t always have to go out of your way to network – just look around your classroom. How many students have you not spoken to? Have you gotten to know your lecturer? Make use of your time to get to know them. Tap into your lecturer’s wealth of experience and ask him or her about their background. They may be able to provide you with some useful information about the line of work you may be interested in.
Trawl job search platforms
You may not be looking for a job at the moment, but trawling job search platforms enables you to find out what are the skills and knowledge needed for a job you want to secure post-graduation.
This means you can supplement your learning while in university if you find out that it may be worth taking an additional course, or even picking up a new language, to improve your chances of securing a job later.
Platforms such as LinkedIn can prove useful as you’ll be able to ‘Follow’ certain companies, read about the blog posts they share to learn more about the industry, and even look up profiles of people who work there to give you a better understanding of things.
Plus, LinkedIn is also a great networking tool so if you’re so inclined, there’s no harm in hitting up a business leader through the platform to learn what it’s like working in the industry. You never know – it could even lead to a job opportunity!
Find a mentor
A mentor is essentially someone who can help with their mentee’s professional development. They’re not your best friend for you to have a shoulder to cry on, but preferably someone whom you trust and can learn from their knowledge and experience.
Your mentor could be your lecturer, a senior colleague at your internship or even a friend of your parents who may be a professional in your field of interest.
For example, if you’re keen on becoming a journalist, you could reach out to someone who has already gone through the ropes, such as your professor, who can help give you an insider perspective and help facilitate your overall learning.