Have you ever stood by a river, where the banks narrow? The water goes from languid and lazy to frothy, roiling and wild as it all tries to squeeze through that smaller space. The job market at the end of university is the same. A huge number of people are trying to get into a small number of jobs – after all, most businesses prefer people with at least some experience.
So it gets pretty crazy for a while, and if you’re not careful you are coasting along suddenly has pushed to the bottom and have you struggling for your moment in the sun. Obviously that’s not what you after. And so, you need to take steps to make certain you can ride those rapids like a pro.
Yeah, you don’t really want to work during the summer vacation. I get that. The thing is, internships allow you to take the theoretical ideas that you’ve learned in class and apply them. This is the best way to turn what you’ve learned in class into skills that you’ll retain for the rest of your life. After all, we learn by doing, not by sitting around and philosophizing about it. What’s more, when you apply for internships you can list all the things you learned in class.
Then, when you apply for the actual job, you can list the internships as experience for the job. It’s like going into those rapids with a life jacket on! You’ll have exactly some of those skills and abilities that the companies are looking for you to have as a new graduate.
Heck, you might be able to call up some of the companies where you did an internship at the end and roll right into a full-time position. Now wouldn’t that cut the hassle of finding a job after college down to the bare minimum?
What’s more, if you start off with an unpaid internship in your freshmen year, you should be able to leverage that into an actual paid internship by the time you’re a sophomore. And that will either make certain your loans are not quite as massive, or that you just have that bit of extra comfort throughout the year. That’s nothing to be sneezed at, right?
Become a paid blogger
Another great way to take the skills you’re learning in university and turn them into something that possible employers will respect is to write about them. Create a blog in the niche that you’re studying and work at putting out paid content.
Yes, this isn’t easy, but I didn’t say you need to put out hundreds of paid articles (though if you can you should!) It’s just a matter of having some paid content that you can point to – particularly if you manage to write some that gets received well by people in the industry.
These will make a huge difference as you can point to them in your resume and make it clear to everybody concerned that you’re not some fresh-off-the-boat graduate. Instead you can show you’ve actually been thinking about what you’ve learned and been formulating it into digestible prose which has been well received.
If you want to go into a more academically focused direction, then don’t just do the research you have to do, but go out of your way to do more. Many university professors need people to help them do research. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn the ropes, befriend a professor and get a whole bunch of experience that you can put on your resume.
Again, this will also help you make certain that you retain what you’ve learned in university, as you’ll get to apply the theories you’ve read about in your text books in an actual research setting. And by working with them every day they’ll be much more likely to stick in your head.
Want to really understand statistics? Then get data sets and analyze them. Want to understand how the theories you use really apply? Do some research in which you get to apply them. And then, when you’re applying for a graduate position, you’ll have all that wonderful experience to reference back to and you can say ‘I didn’t just learn, I applied.’
And that has to count for something.
Don’t sit on your laurels
In fact, the idea that you have to go out and apply what you’ve learned is vital. There are other ways you can do so. Join the college newspaper. Do community service? Work as a tutor for other students. Really, anything that allows you to cement those skills in place will also allow you to show companies that you’ve got skills that those who decided that being lazy was more important than getting ahead don’t have. And that will ultimately make far more of a difference than knowing the answers to the tough interview questions.
It will, in fact, make all the difference.
So get off your ass and do something with your time. It doesn’t even have to be every day. They probably won’t ask how long you had to work at the jobs at the interview, so you can get away with doing something for two afternoons a week and you’ll be golden. It’s just a matter of being able to put it on your resume that matters.
Then, when everybody else is working two waitressing jobs to get their loans paid off, you can relax in your corner office and tell the new interns what to do. Now doesn’t that sound like a dream come true?
By Luisa Brenton