10 things you can do to become industry ready by the time you graduate

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Although getting a college degree greatly increases your chances of landing a job, finding work after you’ve graduated can prove to be challenging. Some 53% of college grads are unemployed or working at a job that doesn’t fit their career goals. So while you are still juggling exams, deadlines, and papers, you should also take some steps to prepare for what lies ahead and become industry-ready by the time you graduate.

Here’s a list of 10 things to help you figure out how to become industry ready by the time you graduate and get closer to your career goals.

1. Do your research

Whether to define your future field of work or to pinpoint the skills which are desired within a certain industry – the internet is your best friend. There are loads of resources to help you get a better understanding of specific industries and the skills required to do certain jobs. See what skills you need to brush up on or even learn from scratch. Research an industry’s employability or salary range. Reach out to people who are working in the industry to get a better idea of the job requirements. Take the time to get all the relevant information and define a goal.

2. Draw a simple map

Become industry ready - make a simple map

As the saying goes – a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, after you’ve figured out your goals, you need to work out a plan for how to achieve them. Think of it as a simple map or timeline, starting at where you are now and ending at where you want to get. Define all the small steps you need to take in between and you’ll have a checklist leading you to the finish line.

3. Network

It’s not uncommon to land your first job after college from a personal connection, so use the networking opportunities college offers wisely! As it happens, only about 30% of job openings are advertised, so to hear about the other 70% you have to be well-connected. Your current classmates are your potential future colleagues and your professors and lecturers are a great source of connections, so build relationships and be sure to keep in touch. Your online presence is just as important, so make sure to set up and update your LinkedIn profile and build connections there as well.

4. Take online courses

If you want to upgrade your class-acquired skills or learn a new skill set, there are numerous online courses you can take for free on websites such as Coursera or Udemy. Online courses can help you get practical experience and could serve as an additional bullet point in your resume. You’ll also get some insight that can help you determine if you are on the right career path. Don’t focus just on practical skills, there’s an abundance of courses to hone your soft skills, which are just as important when applying for a job.

5. Gain relevant experience

While in college, to gain some relevant experience you have two options: volunteering or internships. Both are a great way to boost your resume and career prospects. You’ll gain relevant working skills, on-the-job and interviewing experience, and also be able to demonstrate dedication. Employers are more likely to hire someone who has hands-on experience in the field. As tempting as it may be to spend your break catching up with friends, grab a volunteering or internship opportunity if one comes along.

6. Build a portfolio

Become industry ready - Portfolio

It’s important to offer your prospective employer an insight into the skills you’ve mastered and the work you’ve done. Start creating your portfolio which will be a showcase of your skills and knowledge. You should choose the projects to put in your portfolio wisely, your level of skill should shine through. Digital portfolios work best, as you can easily update them and link them to your LinkedIn profile. If you can’t make a portfolio, consider writing a blog related to your area of interest.

7. Find a part-time job

College can be quite expensive, so many students turn to part-time jobs to help pay for college expenses or just to earn some extra money. But, part-time jobs can also be very beneficial for your future job hunting. Having one or more part-time jobs through college shows future employers that you are responsible and have good time-management skills. Your former employers can act as a reference for future applications. Don’t worry if these jobs are not relevant for your future career, put them on your CV as they will be a positive indicator for potential employers.

8. Get your CV ready

Your resume is the first thing employers will look at when you apply for a job, so don’t leave it for the last minute. In fact, you can start working on it even in your first year in college, and then update it annually. As you learn new skills, participate in projects or take part-time jobs, include them in your CV. By the time you graduate, you’ll probably want to remove some less relevant things from your CV, but you will have a full account of everything you’ve accomplished. With a polished and well-rounded resume, you’ll be ready for any opportunity that may pop up.

9. Be proactive

You should think of your job search like a job, as it’s a process that takes a lot of work. Attend job fairs, reach out to companies for internships or volunteering opportunities and engage in any college projects that you can get your hands on. Try not to miss out on opportunities. If you’ve applied for a job or an internship, and there’s no reply, it’s completely OK to check up on that with the employer. Their insight can help land the next one that comes along.

10. Keep your options open

Finding any job fresh from college can prove quite challenging, let alone a very specific “dream job”. Don’t pigeonhole yourself, keep your options open. As a fresh college graduate, you should be open to the array of possibilities the market offers. Despite all the research and preparation, you can’t really know what is best for you until you get out there and start working.

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