After four or more years in college, you might feel the urge to jump straight into the real world. Pump the brakes! It can be hard and mind boggling to figure out where to even begin when looking for your first job. Take it day by day, limiting your stress by following the below tips before and during the application process.
1. Meet with people who work in the industry that you want to be in. If you cannot physically meet with them for coffee or in their office, call or email them! People are usually willing to take a few minutes to chat, especially if you take the time to write a nice email introducing yourself and explaining your situation. You can find contacts on LinkedIn, through professors, or even through friends and family. Once you create a relationship, ask them if they will serve as your mentor. Having someone to go to for questions and ideas is a great way to learn firsthand what your specific industry is like. Finally, do not hesitate to ask them who else you should be talking to. Grow your network!
2. Internships are the best and most crucial way to gain experience, expand your network, learn the industry, and build credibility for yourself. Internships give you the opportunity to test out what you do and do not like, showcase your skills and areas for improvement, and even bring out qualities you did not even know you had. Companies like to see that you have had some experience under your belt before they hire you permanently, and sometimes companies start you in an internship or contract role with the possibility to hire you full-time later.
3. Know the difference between hard and soft skills. Hard skills are technical abilities that can be measured, like writing, math, computer science, and more. Soft skills are essentially your people skills. Can you talk to people, listen, and engage? Soft skills are very important in any industry and in life. Overall, try to become the most well-rounded person in both hard and soft skills. For example, if you want to be more saavy in Excel, sign up for an online certification class. If you need to improve your social skills, research and attend a local networking event.
4. Be willing to learn and never be afraid to ask questions. To be the most efficient and knowledgeable, never stop finding ways to grow and expand your skills. If you are feeling bored or are stuck on a project, you can always ask for more work. This illustrates your willingness to do any task and your desire to learn. Show people that you are not afraid to have your hands in many baskets.
5. Always be a team player! When interviewing for a job, make sure that your personality vibes with the office environment; you should be able to tell if it would be a good fit and if the company culture aligns with your values. You and your team should have great synergy. Help one another, be transparent, share ideas, and have fun.