When you finally finish college you’re going to face a lot of competition out there. Career planning now will give you an advantage. Some things to do would include job shadowing, attending job fairs and even taking a field trip to visit a company that interests you.
Summer road trips can be combined with job hunting and checking out future employers. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Create your career plan
Take the same skills that you’ve used to research your term papers and turn those skills to researching your possible future.
Alan De Back put together “A Top 10 List of Resources to Launch Your Career,” for the September 2011 issue of T&D magazine.
De Back believes that the key to a successful career plan is to use all of the resources at your disposal which include:
- Attend meetings of professional associations, read professional publications, follow blogs that relate to your field.
- Promote internships and volunteer experience: be sure to add any skills that you developed on your resume. It doesn’t matter that they were not earned on a job.
- Arrange informational meetings: build your own professional network by meeting key people in your field. Have a list of questions to use for information gathering.
Most important of all, be persistent and follow up. Just mind the fine line between following up and nagging.
“Same thing with following-up after an interview–following-up a couple of weeks later is appropriate and expected, but calling every day to see if a decision has been reached is too much,” De Back advised.
To really learn about a future career, you have to try it out for yourself. One way to do this is by shadowing someone who is working at the job you want. Not only does it give you a taste of what a job is like, you can also see inside the company and how it works.
According to Katherine Hansen, Ph.D., job shadowing is similar to an informational interview in which job-seekers conduct short interviews with people in their prospective profession to learn more about the field. She explained the inner workings of job shadowing in her article for QuintCareers.com, “Research Companies and Careers Through Job Shadowing.”
“Where an informational interview typically lasts about a half hour, a job-shadowing experience can be anywhere from a few hours, to a day, to a week or more, depending on what you can mutually arrange with the person you’ve chosen to shadow,” Hansen said.
While job shadowing, you’ll follow the professional as they go about their work day. To set up job shadowing, write a letter or email and be flexible about scheduling. Be sure to follow up and always respect the professional’s valuable time. You may find shadowing opportunities through your school or with local or state government agencies.
Another way to test the waters of a future career is by visiting job fairs. Hundreds of job fairs are held throughout the country each year. There is bound to be one near you. This is your chance to meet with representatives of companies and find out what kind of candidates they are looking for.
Like anything else, preparation is your key to a successful experience. Dave Roos listed, “10 Questions to Ask at a Job Fair,” for HowStuffWorks.com.
Before attending a job fair, find out which companies will be there and research them on the Internet. Look at any recent press releases posted on their website. These reveal achievements as well as future plans. Also check out their blogs for more inside information.
Questions to ask at the job fair include:
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
- What types of training programs do you offer?
- What skills and attributes do you value most in your employees?
Then you can discuss your skills and experience as they relate to what the company values.
According to Roos, “By asking this question, you are encouraging the recruiter to think of you as already being on the job. Instead of telling him or her exactly how you’d contribute, the recruiter gets to put the pieces together for him- or herself.”
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Do you have any tips and ideas for activities that will help you in your future career? Tell us in the comments.