Get a Head Start

August 16, 2021

Ask yourself this question: What have I done to prepare for my career after graduating? Preparation for what’s ahead will put you in the driver’s seat and speed up your career.

It’s never too early

That’s just the beginning, first up you want to be the standout candidate for the job. It’s no secret that the best positions get thousands of applications. What will make the HR manager pass your CV to company management? It’s never too early so if you haven’t started please do today, you’ll be glad you did.

This will point  you in the right direction, however this is just the start, think about this carefully, make notes about what the possibilities are and then make the move. Whatever you do, just start.

Volunteer

This is a great way to get started. Volunteer for activities that are related to the career path you think you may follow. Volunteering is a great way to get some experience, but even more important it will give you an idea whether you actually enjoy doing what you plan to do.

Many graduates go into careers they hate and get stuck there for many reasons. If you realise you don’t enjoy what you were planning to do, you have various options:

  • Change the direction of your studies. This is a big decision so before making it, chat with your parents, your lecturers and campus career counselor.
  • You may enjoy what you’re studying and want to stay on this education path. In that case you could look at the other careers. There are many careers where your studies could be valuable.

Employers place significant value on graduates who have volunteered while studying. Be open-minded when looking for somewhere to volunteer. There may not be an opportunity that is directly related, but consider that all careers require multiple sets of skills. If you’re going to be an accountant, your job will require you to understand business, so be innovative. You could even call companies in your line of work, speak to them and find out what skills they value.

Freelance

The internet provides us with endless opportunities to use our knowledge and skills. There are hundreds of sites where anyone can create a profile and offer their skills to millions. These sites do the marketing for you, they bring the customers to you.

What you need to do is research. Let’s say you’re studying computer science or IT and you know how to build websites. Do some Googling, find out which are the popular freelance sites that offer web design as a service. Then research other people on the sites, what they offer and the work they list as references. Then think about what could make your offering attractive to people who need similar skills. Perhaps your prices could be lower than the others. Perhaps you could concentrate on sites with up to 5 pages. Write or create a spreadsheet of what they offer and what you offer, compare and then streamline yours. These sites cover hundreds of unique skills literally anything you can do online. Here are some examples of the hundreds on the web.

Social media presence

We are sure it comes as no surprise that companies and human resources agencies check your social media accounts as part of the hiring process.

First some advice. Edit your existing social media accounts by removing posts that could be offensive to anyone including foul language. Cleaning up your social media accounts is time-consuming so start now.

Second, establish a professional social media account. This means set up a LinkedIn account. However, don’t just set it up and leave it blank, engage. Connect with companies and people that are in the industry you hope to have a career in. Share your thoughts on the subject and respond to posts. Share articles and blogs you may have come across on other sites, with your comments on the article. Ask people which books you can read or online courses you can do. If you follow companies that are potential workplaces then connect with others that work there, ask questions and find out what skills they require from a recruit.

The quicker you get started on this the better. Remember your personal social media accounts could cost you a job, however your LinkedIn account could get you one.

Look for a mentor 

Finding and working with a mentor will give you an advantage in getting hired and the trajectory of your career. We often don’t even give finding a mentor a thought. Truth is, finding a mentor who can guide and advise you is priceless. Finding a mentor isn’t easy and you will need to actively participate while he/she provides insight and knowledge. Mentoring is a two-way street and you are the one that will do most of the work. That said, imagine how good it looks on your CV that you are mentored by a captain of industry.

Here are some links to get you started:

https://www.careerjunction.co.za/blog/how-to-find-a-mentor-and-what-to-ask-them/

https://www.mentorshipchallenge.co.za/mentorship-programs-in-south-africa

https://www.comensa.org.za/Public/Find

Conclusion

Preparing for your career while studying will make a significant difference to your chances of getting hired by the company you want to work at. What’s more, most students won’t do any preparation, so your competitive advantage is increased further. Remember the most sought after jobs could have hundreds of applicants, many of them your classmates, so get to the top of the pile by preparing.

Here at The Fields we offer you so much at your fingertips like free uncapped Wi-Fi and modern apartments which you can share, or live alone. Don’t hesitate, have a look at the amazing deals we have to offer and join us today.

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