Contrary to the popular belief we all grow up with, it is actually not easy for anyone to land the first job after graduating from college. Companies are more particular about the skill set a candidate possesses rather than the qualification or degree he or she holds. Past work experience is seen as a priority in the selection criteria for almost any good job. Recommendations from previous employers are vital in passing through the interview phases.
As industries get more technologically advanced and adopt conventional means of handling operations, it takes time for educational institutions to follow suit and update their coursework accordingly. This creates a gap between the knowledge that’s taught in colleges, and the practices and methodologies used in the practical world.
With an already saturated job market in many countries, these factors make it even harder for fresh graduates to step in to get valuable exposure and sustainable income. Here are some productive actions you can take to bridge the gap between your academic mindset and corporate requirements.
Join your college alumni
Graduates who join their college alumni not only get a chance to connect with other recent grads, but also with those who graduated years ago and are now employed at good positions in various firms. These connections can come in handy to get you familiar with the kinds of opportunities available in those firms.
Many alumni associations also host their own job portals or websites where they regularly post recent job openings. In some cases, these openings are not published elsewhere, giving alumni members the golden chance to be the first ones to apply.
Consider an internship
College graduates who get some practical experience in the form of a paid or unpaid internship often stand out in the eyes of potential employers.
It might also happen that during an internship, your mind gets clearer about the career direction you want to pursue. One kind of job may start appealing to you more than the other, as you witness the different job duties of both, firsthand.
Getting feedback on your work from your internship supervisors could be a great learning opportunity, which is often hard to get as a paid employee whereby poor performance could put your money or salary at stake. If you are willing to embrace your mistakes, observe the employees above you, and learn to do more tasks, you can turn your internship into a valuable training program for a constructive beginning of your professional life.
Take professional certification courses
As companies realize the danger of the gap between college and the way their business operations are carried out, more employers are getting around the importance of professional certifications.
Attending professional courses also gives you the ability to evaluate the talents of others, so that you can prove yourself to be an outstanding candidate the next time you appear for a real job interview. With a well-recognized certification, you’ll even be able to claim higher compensation for your work when you finally land your first job.
Start with agency work
If you are not interested to take on the kind of activities mentioned above that pay little or nothing financially in the start, you can opt to become an agency worker to get some hands-on experience without compromising on your value for money. This way, you’ll have some flexibility on the quantity of work you have to do everyday, and some space to make up your mind on whether you really like doing the work or not.
Agency work is like putting your foot into the door with a great chance of being offered a permanent position in the same place. As you familiarize yourself with the allotted tasks, your employer would also get a chance to see what you are best at. If all goes well, that could conveniently translate into your first good permanent job offer!
Some agencies also offer the benefit of weekly pay. There’s nothing more exciting for an enthusiastic fresh grad than receiving his/her very first paycheck as fast as in just a week of starting work.
Look into freelancing options
How about taking advantage of the digitalization of this fast-paced world we are living in today? The numerous freelancing opportunities and platforms that the fresh graduates have available nowadays were not present for the previous generations, or even until a decade ago for that matter.
All it takes is to create an impressive profile on websites like Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer; write about your skills and expertise, and send out proposals to all potential clients who put up a job posting that suits your interest.
Other platforms are available for offering more specific services; such as PeoplePerHour for programming jobs and projects, or any of the top 15 essay writing services platforms for copywriting tasks and assignments.
If you feel you have good business acumen, there are tons of small business ideas that are suitable for youngsters to begin with.
- If you’ve been an accounting student and really like the subject, you can offer tax preparation and bookkeeping services to companies.
- If you are into multimedia, websites and app development, you can build cost-effective apps for startup firms to represent their business.
- If you have a passion for photography, you can turn that into a profession by offering photography services on business events and personal celebration functions.
- If you’ve always been the geeky type, you can provide online or at-home tutoring services to make a productive use of your learning skills.
- If you are a health and fitness freak, go for a professional qualification in this field to offer the highly demanded professional training services.