How to Boost Your Experience and Resume Post-University
So, you’ve finally graduated university! Congratulations! Or, maybe you’re a year or so out. Either way, that existential dread of “oh-no-what-on-Earth-am-I-going-to-DO-with-my-life” is probably starting to settle in. Don’t fret! Here are some suggestions on how to stand out as a competitive candidate in the professional world.
Take Classes That Pertain to Your Job Interests
If you’re still in school, don’t just take “fluffer” classes to fill in your credit hours requirement: take classes that you could add on a resume as experience. For example, if you want to work in a medical field, consider taking classes on first aid training to show that you’ve taken at least some initiative on your own.
Take Classes that Require an Internship
Doing an internship outside of class can be difficult, as most of them are unpaid and take up a huge chunk of time. If you can, find a class that includes an internship in its curriculum. That way you don’t have to spend the extra time outside of school completing an internship! You should also jump on summer internship opportunities.
Do Volunteer Work and Extracurricular Activities
Not everything you need to do to boost your resume will bring in cash flow. Investing time in volunteer-work and clubs shows a commitment to the community and your own personal growth that extends far beyond what classes and schoolwork can do. If you have something you’re passionate about, find a club that meets for it, or start one yourself! Leading an organization always shows initiative, consistency, and leadership, no matter how big or small the organization is.
Build Relationships with Professors and Network
Most jobs these days require some form of recommendation letter, or knowing someone to get your foot in the door. As frustrating as it can be at times, we rely on others to help us get to where we need to be. Start fostering these relationships early on—ask for help in class as soon as you need it, pop by during office hours just to chat, etc.
It may sound silly, but these are the little interactions that help you transcend from student to job candidate. Ultimately, these interactions are what will cause people to remember you. They’ll have tons to say about in a recommendation letter.
Meet with a Career Coach
Most universities will offer something like a career advisor or coach who can help you with everything pertaining to job-hunting: what to wear, how to format your resume, mock-interview skills, etc. Utilise these resources! These advisors usually have the latest news on what jobs have become available in your country.
Become close to these people and they will help you thrive. Most universities also have a job database of companies looking for recent graduates. Browse through these sites with a fine-toothed comb and apply for absolutely everything.
Don’t Aim to Settle… But It’s Ok if You Have To
If it’s been over 6 months and you still haven’t been able to find a job in your desired career field…it may be time to consider settling for something that pays a little less, or isn’t exactly what you wanted just to get some experience under your belt. Companies usually want an explanation for gaps in employment, and you’ll want a better explanation for a 6-month gap rather than “I couldn’t find a job.”
Nothing says you can’t keep looking for your dream job even after you find something, but sometimes you need some extra experience to get to where you want to be. It takes a little while longer to get there than we might like.
Just remember: everything happens when the time is right. Don’t be afraid to try something different that interests you, even if it doesn’t line up with your degree!