Being a student can be equal parts fun, challenge and frustration. In our college years, we encounter people and viewpoints typically not possible. Academics teach skills beyond textbooks, such as meeting deadlines and prioritizing.
However, parlaying college into a career can be frustrating. Employers also want practical skills, which starts with the questions: ‘What can you do?’ and ‘What have you done?’ This can be difficult for young adults who have been buried in coursework and doing odd jobs.
Many college students approach graduation with a resume that relies mostly on their textbook knowledge. A tight job market and repaying student loans also causes anxiety.
Thankfully, making yourself more marketable can be fairly simple.
Here are some strategies to consider:
Manage Your Social Media Wisely
You can set yourself apart from a crowded field by responsibly managing your social media.
What is considered ‘appropriate behavior’ depends on many factors. College students and working professionals are often held to different standards, including social media use. Employers and graduate programs will likely turn to social media for a sense of who you are.
Pictures of parties or pranks are standard parts of college life. However, how will this reflect on you as a job applicant?
We are commonly judged by the company we keep. Comments from friends may reflect poorly on you, as well. You should consider deleting profanities and comments about politics, religion or sex. This doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, but consider how comments will be taken by others.
Some best practices for social media include:
Know how to:
1) delete/hide past posts
2) Limit friends from tagging you in their posts
3) change your cover photo, if needed.
When posting, assume you have the career you want. If you want to work as an IT Specialist, consider how an IT professional would post.
Would they post the picture or comment you are about to send?
By asking these questions in advance, young adults can ensure their social media will not be an issue as their careers grow.
Get Experience By Offering Your Skills and Time
Time is perhaps the most precious asset we have. Our skills are of equal or close importance. College students can leverage their digital age skills and flexible schedules gain valuable experience.
Elliott Broidy is an investment manager who earned financial experience by starting a Laundromat in college. The money management skills he learned are still used today.
Young adults tend to be very tech savvy, particularly with internet technology. Although big companies are prized for internships, small businesses across America lack the time, staffing or expertise to expand. You can gain multiple skills and a great referral by offering skills to a small business.
How? Here are some thoughts
Any given small business doesn’t know how to open or manage social media. Many small business owners use their personal Facebook pages for company purposes, which affects credibility. You can offer to manage or setup a small company’s social media, even for free. The resume building value of ‘Social Media Intern’ for ‘Company XYZ’ will pay for itself.
The same approach applies to any industry. If you want to work in financial services, approach a local office and volunteer IT skills or even to answer phones. You can avoid applying against hundreds of other resumes by proactively offering your time.
Fast food restaurants, call centers and retail shops all have multiple facets. Accounting majors can offer to help with inventory or future writers may volunteer for drafting memos or writing on the company blog. Be creative and match your skills with what is needed.
Use What You Know and Build Your Brand
Opportunity is not always obvious. Sometimes, we must find value by looking at what’s available around us. You can also gain credibility by using social media as a branding tool.