By: Jared Rigdon
The job market has become increasingly more competitive as a result of the pandemic, which makes setting yourself up for success after college all the more important. IU does a tremendous job preparing students for the “real world,” but success requires both learned skills and individual initiative. Here are four things that you can do while in college (whether this is your first semester or your last) to be more marketable to employers upon graduation.
1. Update your resume. This might be the most important part of your search for a job. Most things in your professional life are going to require a resume. Whether that be an internship application or a scholarship application, you’ll have to have a resume. Now is a better time than ever to either create one or refresh an old one. It’s important to make sure that everything looks clean on your resume. When employers look at it, they don’t want to look through clustered information or fancy fonts. It’s more than likely that they’re going to quickly glance at it, so you want to have only essential information that pertains to your professional career. Make sure to include academic, professional, volunteer and personal information that would help portray why you’re a good fit for the job.
2. Reach out to professionals. Reach out to IU alumni or professionals in the industry in which you’re interested. Whether they work in fashion PR or marketing communication, if someone has a job that interests you, send them a message or an email. Ask them if they have 15-20 minutes to talk about their career and any potential tips they might have on how you can achieve your goals. The worst thing they can do is say no. If they say yes, then you get a chance to learn firsthand about a potential future career in the industry of your choice. Make sure to be polite and flexible to their schedule.
3. Academics are important. Don’t forget that while you’re looking towards your future career, you’re still in school. Grades are important, even if you won’t be hired purely off your GPA. Maintaining high academics teaches discipline and work-ethic, skills that are easily transferable to the workforce. During college, you’ll learn essential time management skills, writing skills and more that will translate directly into your career. You’ll also have a sense of pride in your work that’ll give you confidence in your ability to do the best job you can.
4. Figure out what sets you apart. Employers will be looking through hundreds of resumes and cover letters when selecting a candidate for a job. You need to be able to set yourself apart. Maybe that includes holding down a part-time job, an internship or even running your own podcast. You want to have skills or experience that differentiate you from the competition. The best time to work on that is during college. Outside of academics, there are plenty of opportunities to hone your skills, add experience or explore things that interest you. This is crucial to branding yourself in a way that helps you stand out.
These aren’t the only ways to help set yourself up for success after college, but they’re a great way to start. Don’t be afraid to stray outside of your comfort zone. Reach out to new people. Explore diverse paths. Look for experience wherever you can. Take the time to figure out what interests you and how you can make an impact. In order to convince a potential employer why you belong in that position, you need to be able to prove your own strengths and passions.