We are drawing closer and closer to the most crucial time for any final-year student. The time where they will be wrapping up their final projects/exams and preparing to graduate and collect their hard-earned degrees. They are now getting ready for the next stage of their lives – starting their careers.

However, life is not as generous as we would want it to be. Because, as fresh graduates, you will now come face to face with the harsh reality of the catch-22 situation: You need work experience to get a job; to gain work experience, you need a job.

In this week’s Job-Hunting entry, we are focusing on the importance of preparing for your career pre-graduation and tips on how you can develop professionally.

Do not Procrastinate.

One common misconception is that your career starts after graduating. This robs many of us of many career opportunities, and what makes this even more depressing is that we might not even realize until it is too late. Do not wait until you graduate to prepare yourself for your career; prepare yourself before graduating.

To keep yourself one step ahead of this catch-22 situation, we recommend that you undertake an internship during your tenure in university, do voluntary services, speak with someone or a mentor, or job shadow someone in your preferred career field. Doing these things might just save you from the catch-22 situation and land you a job after graduation.

We also recommend that you do extensive research on different organizations within your career field. This will help you to better prepare your resume and positioning yourself to be successful in an interview. 

You could also call the human resources department of these companies and enquire about internship opportunities, qualifications and contact personnel to send resume and cover letter.

Make use of your Internship.

It is like they always say, “internship is the lifeblood of college/university experience.” It is one thing to understand the contents of a book and something different to have hands-on experience and exercise knowledge learned in a working environment. This means that you get to grasp things that were probably not taught in the classroom, exciting right!

Choosing the right internship is paramount to your career development. So, speak with an advisor before you make that decision. More often than ever, advisors tend to encourage students to intern with small and medium-sized organizations: as they are more fruitful when it comes to gaining hands-on experience than larger organizations. You can look at it this way, you are less likely to do menial jobs that do not provide any work experience or career development at these small and medium-sized organizations, as opposed to the larger ones.

Also, keep in mind that while you are interning, it is foremost important that you network. This could determine whether you get a job offer in your preferred organization or not.

Staying Up to date ensures you are always ready.

Imagine getting recommended for a job and being asked to attend an interview the following day. How prepared would you be for this job interview? What if there is an exam that will give the final say in whether you get the job?

Preparation is a predominant key for success. Make sure that you are always prepared for opportunities. Sadly, a lot of us have learnt this the hard way.

Staying up to date ensures that you are fully aware of your career landscape and keeps you ready for what is to come. If you are a journalism student you want to ensure that you are updated on current affairs, and if you are studying law, you want to ensure that you are updated on new and updated laws, policies, and regulations. 

One of the most common phrases we hear in university is that “reading, analyzing and understanding is the key to keep the ball rolling” and this could not be any truer than it is.

Knowing ahead means staying ahead.

Crisan Evans

Expand your Knowledge.

If you are between the ages of 20 to 35 and you already know the importance of expanding your knowledge, then you deserve a round of applause. If you know the importance of expanding your knowledge and you are doing it then you deserve an outrageous scream of victory.

I have been stuck in the same predicament of wanting a new job but lack the experience to gain the job. However, a friend of mine said something that sticks with me to this day, “If you can’t get a job to gain experience, then create your own experience.” I thought about what he said a lot. I was a journalism major and what he said lead me to start my blog. I realized that the more I blogged the more refined my writing skills got. I also started my YouTube channel “She Forges by Crisan.”  I was able to gain the necessary experiences that I required from directing, producing, and editing all my YouTube videos and graphics through various editing software.

Doing all of these I was able to expand my knowledge and experience on my own. I discovered that this tactic really works when I was interviewed by two major media companies in Jamaica. I showed the interviewers my writing portfolio, as well as my videos and graphics done for my YouTube channels and they were impressed by the amount of experience that I have.

I am telling you this story to show you that you can create your own experience and broaden your knowledge on your own accord.

You don’t have to follow in my footsteps. There are many ways to expand your knowledge.

Here is a list of ways to expand your knowledge:

  1. Get a technical or leadership certificate.
  2. Become friends with people who are smarter than you.
  3. Attend seminars and functions.
  4. Read blogs and books that are related to your career field.
  5. Watch documentaries related to your career field.
  6. Use the skills you learned in university to improve your everyday living.
  7. Do freelance jobs with other people. You might be surprise by what they can teach you.

Don’t worry, there is still hope!

Some people are probably reading this and realizing that they did not get to do any of these. Some of you might have already graduated and are seeking jobs, and some might be preparing for graduation. The truth is, it is never too late until it is too late. While preparing earlier would increase your chances of successfully scoring jobs, it is still possible to find a job.

So, dust off your resume and cover letter and start optimizing it. Who knows, the changes that you make today might be the difference that will get you that dream job.

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