As you prepare to graduate college, or if you are a recent college graduate, you might be wondering, "How am I going to get a job?" As someone who most likely does not have a lot of work experience in your desired field, the entire process of finding a job may be new to you. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed, and you may feel a lot of pressure to find that perfect job right after graduating.
Whether that pressure comes from yourself or someone close to you, it can make this time needlessly stressful.
A first bit of advice for recent graduates before entering the working world is that the current job market is challenging. This means that finding any position is going to take time and a lot of energy on your part. Don't be discouraged, especially if you feel like you do not have the experience you need to enter your chosen field. You actually have more experience than you probably think you do.
After you read this guide, you will be able to sit down and identify the experiences you have had that will make you appealing to potential employers. Whether you participated in an internship, have hands-on classroom work experiences, studied abroad while in college, or possess some combination, you have spent time working on and developing valuable skills that are beneficial when you begin applying for jobs. In your years as a college student, all the work you did and extracurricular activities you participated in gave you valuable, applicable skills for building a good resume.
The first part of the process of finding and applying for any jobs after college is including your relevant experiences on your resume. The experiences mentioned above are going to help you land a job and will help you transition into the workplace. Below, you will find great reasons why internships, classroom work, and studying abroad were and will continue to be great experiences that will ultimately help you get a job.
You were no doubt told multiple times while in school that an internship was going to be a valuable thing. In fact, many students do not simply participate in one internship. Rather, they participate in two or more internships, usually during the summer, or over the course of a semester under the guidance of a professor or administrator or with a nearby organization. If you have an internship on your resume, this could mean the difference between getting and not getting the job for which you are applying.
Internships, of all the types of experiences you can list on your resume, may in fact be the most beneficial experience possible. When employers see that you had an internship, they want to know what you got out of it and how it is going to inform you as a full-time employee. Here are some of the benefits of an internship that you want to highlight on your resume, cover letter, and in an interview.
- Office or Work Environment: One thing you will learn while participating in an internship is how the given work environment function and operates on a daily basis. This work environment could be an office, a construction site, a mechanic's shop, or an independently owned business. When an employer sees that a recent graduate has actually worked in the real world previously, they know you are not going to take as long to adjust to the work environment as someone who has no experience in that environment.
- Professional Experiences: Whether your internship involved simple filing and clerical work or helping with projects and assignments, you will be exposed to professionals within the field of work you want to enter. Having that exposure will give you an advantage over other candidates because it shows that you know what will be expected of you, and you already know how people function within their jobs.
- Working Deadlines: Again, whether you are doing basic office work or actually participating in projects, you are going to have hard deadlines. You had some experience with deadlines in school, but missing a deadline in the workplace will not only upset workflow and disappoint clients, it can reflect negatively on you as well. Job candidates with internships have experience with hard deadlines, and they know the pressures that go along with it.
- Reporting to a Manager: An internship experience means that you know how to interact with and report to a manager or supervisor. Your experience provides you with the opportunity to learn how to check in, take criticism, and ask your own questions.
You may think that it is not relevant for your future career, worth putting on a resume, or mentioning in a cover letter, but for some recent graduates their classroom work and experiences are some of the most relevant experiences they have. Depending on what you studied while in school, your classroom work may have been extremely hands-on and specific to a career or industry.
If this is the case, then the experiences you had and the knowledge you gained while in your classroom setting may be the most relevant experiences you can mention to a potential employer. Here are just a few of the benefits that you should keep in mind.
- Teamwork: One important aspect of any job or office environment is that of working with co-workers. Even if you are not directly working with someone else, you will come into contact on daily basis with others. Having teamwork experience in the classroom will teach you how to work with and rely on others and how to break a project into tasks to complete it. All of this will translate to teamwork skills in the office and make your transition into a workplace that much smoother.
- Specialized Skills: For some students, their degrees are so specialized that they have developed skills that are completely necessary for specific jobs. In this case, many of your college classes are not only designed to prepare you for that but to provide you with specialized training. Having these types of courses will help build your resume and make you more appealing.
- Hands-On Approach: Your most relevant classroom experiences that will help you land a job after college are any and all hands-on experiences. You might complain about big projects, but it is these projects that teach you how to handle ideas, think creatively, and meet deadlines. They are also meant to give you hands-on experience in your chosen field and give you a glimpse of working life after college.
- Self-Motivated: It is nearly impossible to graduate college without being self-motivated. At some point you will have had to take difficult classes and manage your life while still maintaining good grades; this shows future and potential employers that you are self-motivated.
While at the time you might have thought studying abroad just sounded like a fun way to spend a semester or summer, it actually is an incredible experience that can help you land a job. As you immersed yourself in a new culture and language, met new people, and tried new things, you were gaining and honing skills that make you a desirable and valuable employee. Here are a few key benefits of studying abroad that will continue to shape your career long after you have returned home and as you are applying to your first job.
- Language and Communication: Whether or not you are fluent in a second language, your study abroad experience implies that you learned a good amount of another language or you learned to work with a language barrier. Therefore, your communication skills have been honed, and every employer wants employees who can communicate effectively. This matters even if you do not plan to use a foreign language in your career. You will still need to communicate at your job every day through writing and speaking.
- Cultural Immersion: Another great benefit of studying abroad is that you not only learn about a new culture, but you experience it firsthand, which means that at times you are going to have to deal with new challenges, such as different cultural values, a different language, even new foods! These skills will go on to influence how you deal with challenges and with coworkers in the workplace. Potential employers will see your time abroad not only as a classroom learning experience, but as a time when you learned how to function in a new environment and deal with challenges head-on.
- Connections and Networks: While you were studying abroad, you no doubt met people from all over the world, and while you may not really think about doing this, it would not be completely uncalled for to reconnect with those people and ask for help. It is completely fine for you to use your connections and the network of people you have created over your lifetime in order to find a job.