Just as most of my friends exited university and were landing their first jobs, I found myself back at the registrar’s office choosing courses for my master’s degree. I was about to invest more than $20,000.00 and two and a half years of my life into my next degree. To make the most of my education, I needed to figure out a way to do more than just attend required courses and get good grades.
The first thing I did was find an internship. Just days after making this decision, I learned the value of sharing my goals with others. I stopped by our school’s film vault and mentioned casually to the vault manager that I was looking for an internship. One phone call and one interview later and I was interning at Universal Studios.
Other things you can do now to create a smooth transition from school into the workforce includes finding a part-time or summer job within your field of choice or that requires similar skill sets. For example, if you want to work in the medical field, consider life guarding during the summer. Ask yourself how do the skills and training from this part time job demonstrate to future employers the qualities they are looking for in a candidate?
When choosing essay topics and completing assignments for class look for opportunities to go into the field and interview experts. After your papers are done send a nicely bound copy to your interviewees with a letter of thanks. You never know who you might meet and impress.
You can also get involved with your school paper. You can focus on issues related to your major. It will also show potential employers you are self-motivated, informed and confident about sharing your thoughts and opinions. Save each published piece for your portfolio and track statistics related to readership. Another option is to write a blog. Just be certain the topic is related to your career and not an inside view of your late night drinking escapades.
Determine a need on campus, and then fill it. Perhaps you are great at research or time management. Design a workshop for fellow students and charge a fee. Maybe you are a Physical Education major. Offer your services as a trainer to students. Look at the skills you have and see how you can capitalize on them to generate income and experience.
Find a mentor. Building a network of relationships in the arena where you hope to work is very important. Choose someone whose career path you admire and then do what you can to enroll him or her in mentoring you.
Most importantly, throw out the idea that university is the last piece of your educational puzzle and see it as your first job in your professional career. This is about having a long view of your life. Where do you see yourself five years from now? To achieve your five year goals, where do you need to be three years from now? A year from now? Six months from now? What conscious choices about how you spend your time both in and out of the classroom can you make today ensure that you reach these goals? Before you can build the house of your dreams, you must first lay a strong foundation.
Tambre Leighn, M.A., C.Ht, parlayed her unpaid internship into a successful fifteen year career in the film business including producing documentary films. She recently launched her coaching business (coachingbytambre.com) to help others create lives filled with passion and lived on purpose.