Top Five Ways to Advance Your Career While in School
By Chaim Shapiro, Assistant Director of the Touro College Office of Career Services
A new school year is a time of great excitement. The possibilities are truly endless. There is so much competing for your time and attention, but let's face it; you are probably in school because you want to get a great job after you graduate. If you want to succeed, it takes time and effort and you MUST start now! Here are 5 things you can do while IN school to prepare for career success.
1) Focus on your studies. As much as we like to think that the knowledge we gain and the skills we develop are the primary focus in school, your number 1 priority right now is doing well. Like it or not, employers do make judgments based on your GPA. Not only are there minimum GPA requirements for most positions, employers tend to favor candidates with better grades. Do NOT neglect your studies in favor of ANY other activity.
2) Create and follow a career success plan. Students often think that the can just start the job application process a week before graduation and find a job immediately. The sad reality is that it takes work, time and dedication to find a job. Create a career success strategy with a detailed timetable in your very first semester that highlights everything you need to do to achieve career success, from creating a winning resume and mastering the art of interviewing to knowing and following target employer's hiring schedules. If your school has a career services office, be sure to make an appointment with them early on in your college career. Audit yourself frequently to make sure you are following your success strategy and adapting it to changing realities and circumstances.
3) Get an Internship! When you graduate, you are going to be facing stiff job competition, not only from your classmates, but from people from schools across the country. The best candidates ALL have internship experience. As much as people like to joke about interns spending their time fetching coffee, the truth is that major companies use internships to evaluate the talent. They want to see who really can make things work in the real world. To compete, you must have completed a minimum of at least one internship, but be aware many of your competitors will have completed 2 or more!
4) Volunteer. Companies are very keen on presenting an image of being active and helpful to the broader community. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate your dedication to going above and beyond the call of duty. Your volunteer experience as a student will give the employer confidence that you will continue to be an asset to your community when employed. While volunteer work is rewarding in-of-itself, it can also help you develop critical leadership and interpersonal skills that will be very attractive to a potential employer.
5) Network! The very best time to build a network is before you actually need it. Join a professional association, and start contacting people in your field. Connect with them on LinkedIn and demonstrate your expertise in conversations, professional events and on social media.