If you are like most students, you went to college because you wanted to get a job and work in your field. But according to Statistics Canada, 42% of employed university degree holders between 25-34 years old are working in jobs that don’t require a degree.
A Gallup study of over 60,000 College graduates in the U.S., suggests there are some important experiences you can seek out, to get the most out of your college education, get hired and position yourself for a successful career.
Get a job, or position yourself for success?
While education might give you better odds of getting a job, employers are looking for evidence that applicants are engaged, especially new graduates. Engaged students of course, tend to be engaged employees. The good news is that there are some clear ways you can improve the quality of your educational experience, and position yourself for great job opportunities and long-term success.
1. Build Meaningful Relationships
Seek out a faculty member, professor or mentor who gets you excited about learning. Students who believe that at least one faculty member cares about them personally have a better overall experience are more engaged in their studies, and recognize their unique skills and talents. A strong mentor is someone with knowledge of your profession, who you can learn from, talk to, and reach out to for help. With their guidance students are more focused and likely to follow through on their long-term goals.
2. Use Social Media To Build Your Network
Be a student of what it takes to get a job in your industry. Reach out to your social media network to help you find professionals, managers, HR consultants or others who can help you learn more about your field.
By meeting and speaking with employees in the field, you can gain important insights into what skills and experiences will set you apart, while putting yourself face-to-face with potential employers.
3. Position Yourself to Solve Important Industry Problems
According to Gallup, 96% of post-secondary institutions say their graduates are workforce ready. However only 11% of U.S. business leaders strongly agree that graduates have the necessary skills upon graduation.
Conduct field research to learn about what your industry needs from new grads, and understand what employers in your industry are looking for. Ensure you are positioning yourself to gain the skills and experiences to meet those needs. Most importantly, be prepared to demonstrate with, evidence and artifacts, just what you have to offer.
4. Get Involved, Build Your Skills and Your Industry Connections
Find ways to get involved. What long-term projects, are happening that might require volunteers, either on campus or in the community? Join an organization, or a group committed to the future of the industry.
If your program has a built-in internship, target the best opportunities with the best organizations for your placement. Work with your supervisor to set clear goals about what skills you might want to develop (above and beyond your program’s requirements). Set up regular meetings to ensure you are acquiring the skills you want to develop.
5. Invest In Your Wellbeing
Long-term success in life and work, is a marathon, not a sprint. Make time for life outside of school. Take part in extra-curricular activities that get your mind out of the books and off of work, so that you can come back fresh and prepared to be your best on a daily basis.
Set goals for yourself in each of the following five areas:
Purpose: Know the kind of work and learning that fuels you, gives you energy, and keeps you motivated and working toward your goals. Spend as much time doing those things as possible.
Social: Build and maintain supportive relationships by making time to connect with family, other students, teachers and mentors.
Financial: Ensure you are managing your finances, and planning for the future to reduce stress and increase security.
Physical: Make time for regular physical activity, foods that fuel you, and get enough sleep so you can get things done consistently.
Community: Give time to projects and causes bigger than yourself, whether in your school, industry or community. The sense of belonging you receive will help ease the transition to your new life and strengthen you across your career.
Engaged students become engaged successful employees. Making your wellbeing a priority. Doing so will give you a greater sense of purpose and focus and align you with the people and organizations that need your talent and skills. Not only will you get a job you love, you will make meaningful contributions in the work you do, and you’ll have a life you love.