Graduation day can come with a harsh reality: You’ve got to find a job. If you’re smart, you’re reading this before that fateful day comes. Even if you are reading this after the fact, this simple advice will help you turn the corner from academia to business.
Today’s job market is thirsty for technical people, so don’t get downtrodden if the first few applications you submit don’t yield an offer. If you need some inspiration for new ways to get exposure to potential job opportunities, try a few of these ideas.
Focus Your Skills With a Certification
Remember the video game “Mega Man?” You would combat different bosses and adopt their powers, allowing you to then surmount new and more interesting challenges. Maybe Super Nintendo is a bit before your time if you’re graduating now, but the IT job market is a little like “Mega Man.” You need to choose the right skill set to meet current market needs, and you have to be nimble in adapting to any shifts.
Certifications are a great way to show potential employers you’ve got the right stuff to address their hiring needs. Maybe you get a certification in HTML and CSS, or in programming mobile devices using Android OS. You can collect these certifications and add to your toolset, which in combination with experience will make you a desirable addition to a larger number of companies.
Networking Is Everything
This is not the kind of networking that involves transfer protocols — unless that’s how you refer to a friendly conversation. Networking with other humans is the very best way to uncover job opportunities that you may have never known existed and learn more about how to position yourself in the job market. You can do this both in person and by using tools like LinkedIn and Meetup.
Spending the time to attend a networking event with some peers will allow you to find some common ground with the people who are running businesses in need of new talent. It provides an organic method of testing the water to see how you will fit into the company culture.
For example, you might strike up a conversation with a business owner about a hobby you have over a beer without ever knowing that she is the CEO of a company that makes software. When she learns you’ve got a skill set she can use, you’ll have the added benefit of having started a social relationship with someone who might be in a position to advance your career.
Find Jobs in New Places
Your degree might say computer scientist or network engineer, but that doesn’t mean your first job will have those words in the title. Many operations, particularly those in the small and medium business space, require technical people in mundane-sounding roles. It’s those people who keep companies going by wearing multiple hats.
If you step into a role as a generic inventory manager for a web store that needs a new CRM platform to track sales of their wares to customers, you’ll be getting both valuable experience in sales administration and the opportunity to construct your very own project. That’s two huge resume-builders for the price of one. It probably won’t be easy, because these types of roles can be grueling. However, you will come away with the kind of experience that leads to an exciting, well-paying career.
You’re not the first person to come out of school nervous about how to realize your aspirations for a rewarding career. Don’t let nerves hold you back. Get some exposure and choose a way to continue your specialization, and you might be happily surprised with the job opportunities that fall into your lap.