Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Improving Future Job Opportunities During College

You can get a leg up on future job opportunities while you’re still attending college. With your career goals in mind, consider the following advice:

Start making contacts. The old-fashioned “who you know” game is still key today, so it’s never too early to start networking. Stop in regularly at the campus career services office. Don’t wait until that last month of school, when everyone is scrambling to get their interviews lined up. Share your skills and job interests with everyone you know.

Practice interviewing. Spend time polishing your interviewing skills. If your college offers mock interviewing opportunities, take advantage of this resource. Practice with friends and family: pretend they’re the interviewers and you’re the interviewee. Also, if you are extended a real interview opportunity, accept the invitation even if you’re not interested in the job. The experience will be extremely valuable. Communication skills are vital: the more practice you get now, the better you’ll perform when that dream job is on the line.

Take advantage of an internship or a cooperative education program. Although they provide little or no pay, internships offer invaluable work experience and many present the opportunity to earn college credits. Cooperative education programs are also an excellent way to gain work experience by combining paid employment with academic study. Both offer practical experience, a confidence boost, access to contacts, and the chance to determine compatibility.

Consider studying abroad. Depending on work and family responsibilities, college may be an ideal time to study abroad. Working in another culture expands your perspective. Chances are you’ll become more independent, more culturally aware, and possibly fluent in another language. In addition, studying abroad enables you to demonstrate important character traits, like adaptability, curiosity, and a willingness to learn and try new things—all of which are often appealing to prospective employers.

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