Tuesday, September 07, 2010

University and College Students

Career Paths, Choices & Options

If you are currently attending college or university then it’s okay if you don’t know exactly which career path you will follow. Most 40 year olds don’t know either. Rest assured that a good education, the experience of taking many different courses and a degree will set you on the right path. The right path has many options and leads toward many places.

Here are a few tips for students and recent grads. (Probably good advice for any job seeker!)

Tip #1 - Network, Network, Network

"It's not what you know but who you know." As a student or recent grad, your network may not seem robust right now but the key is to get connected to people who have the right connections. Hiring through referrals is still an employer's #1 source for candidates. So, get out there and meet 3-4 people every day. Join different clubs and associations at your school. Be involved. Set up Linkedin, facebook and twitter accounts and get connected to everyone you meet. Schedule regular meetings with classmates, friends and professors. Yes, call them meetings. Have a clear meeting objective, which is to build your network so that you can share introductions after you graduate.

Tip #2 - Use Your Technology Tools

Your iphone, Mac, PC, Blackberry or smartphone comes with a calendar and contact management software preinstalled. Choose software that will sync with your other gadgets and then live by it! Use it! Make it a daily ritual! A network of contacts is most effective when it is at your finger tips, up to date and complete. Use your calendar software to help get busy. If you do not have a scheduled class, club meeting or study-time then fill that spot in your schedule with a networking meeting. Also book appointments and block out times with yourself. This is how things get done. Every appointment with yourself requires a specific task associated to it.

Tip #3 – Build a Profile with Social Networking

Facebook is an awesome networking tool but it can also be a silent career killer. Employers look at facebook and other networking platforms such as linkedin, twitter and classmates.com to look behind the resume. Change your facebook persona from playful to professional. Every time you join a group, post a photo or create a status update you should assume that potential employers and future contacts will see what you have been up to. Build a profile that says you are active, energetic, involved, and professional. Remember to never whine on social media sites. It’s good practice for never whining anywhere.

By attending school you are building options for your future. You are not only learning your course curriculum but you are also building a network of connections, you are learning what you like and dislike and you are developing the interpersonal skills and social skills that will ultimately have the greatest impact on your future career options.

Most important is that you enjoy your experience. The deadlines and the workload may seem stressful but it won’t get easier after you graduate. Enjoy what you have. When you look back on your university experience from the vantage point of your successful middle age, you will declare it was the best 4 years of your life.

Check back again soon to find more job hunting tips on resume creation, using job boards and interview tips.

Steve Jones
The People Bank

PS. If you know either of my two children who are currently attending university then pass this advice on to them. They are more like to take advice from somebody else than they are from a parent.