Experience First, Career Development Later
Students make tough choices, especially when it comes to deciding where to spend their time and energy. The priority should be learning and honing skills to offer in the job market, but increasing amounts of students are hoping to get straight to work in a skilled occupation during their studies. Why shouldn’t they? Most jobs require experience, entry level competition is fierce, and with today’s living costs, it’s hard to survive on minimum wage jobs. But generally, employers are looking for at least candidates who have completed a credential and can hit the ground running. Realistically, they’re looking for something even beyond that. Candidates who are truly job-ready. Well-rounded individuals who have committed to developing themselves professionally and personally outside of the classroom who are in touch with employer expectations.
Students are understandably trying to avoid the dreaded “I can’t get experience because I don’t have experience” loop. Too often we hear of students receiving the same feedback after an unsuccessful interview: sorry, you don’t have enough experience. The employer knew how much experience the candidate had when extending an interview invitation. They wanted to be persuaded that the person could do the job despite their lack of experience. Experience on paper is one thing, but the real test is presenting in person as a talented, trustworthy, enthusiastic candidate to the employer.
Applying for summer internships and part time skilled jobs is a worthy ambition. However, the #1 mistake students make is dedicating all their precious energy on these highly competitive prospects. They’re tying to make the massive leap from school to work without investing in their career development. Students then graduate having fruitlessly thrown dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applications into the online job search abyss, but are no closer to being job ready in terms of their career development than when they started their program. They missed some crucial steps.
Everyone needs a customized Career Action Plan, but you can use the following checklist to spot some obvious gaps in your career development:
If you can say yes to most or all these questions, then your chances of finding employment are looking strong! If you can’t confidently say yes to most of those points, then you may not be ready for work. Consider pacing yourself and working with Career Services on your customized Career Action Plan to ensure you have every advantage in reaching that ultimate goal. Start ticking those boxes by booking an appointment with a Career Specialist, attending workshops, and participating in our industry-specific events.