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Getting to where we want to go in our careers takes time. Very rarely do we come out of school and land the job of our dreams without any preparation. Luckily there are plenty of steps to take pre-graduation to put us in a position when we’re out there job hunting.
“Preparation allows you to save time and move up the proverbial corporate ladder that much faster.” says Jason R. Rich the author of Your Career (Workplace Skills And Career Tools) as well as Entrepreneur Magazine’s Personal Finance Pocket Guide series and more than 30 other books, including nine career-oriented titles.
“The most important thing you can do while you’re still in school is to participate in an internship program and get experience working in the industry you hope to break into,” says Rich. “A huge percentage of internships wind up leading to paid, full-time jobs. Plus, an internship offers an opportunity to get your foot in the door at an employer, prove yourself and make valuable connections.”
The problem that I faced during my university years was having to balance time for school, work, and homework. I couldn’t volunteer as much time because I was working to make my tuition for the following year. What can others do in a similar situation?
Rich suggests focusing on networking and utilizing scholarships and student loans to help you in the short term in order to achieve your goals.
“If you wind up with a high-paying job as a result of having internship and real-world experience, you’ll be able to pay off those loans in no time, plus move your career forward that much faster,” he says. “The key is to plan ahead and develop a long-term and realistic game plan. You’re not going to graduate from high school and college and immediately land an executive-level position. Be prepared to pay your dues and work hard in order to achieve your success.”
Rich also suggests developing as many career-related skills as possible before you graduate, these are skills that they don’t typically teach.
“Focus on developing your creative thinking, decision making, goal setting, time management, networking, organization and visualization skills. These are typically not taught in school, but are extremely helpful in whatever career path you choose to pursue.”
But out of all these skills the most important one to develop is networking.
“While you’re still in school, try to develop as many connections with people who are already working in your industry or field. Develop your networking skills and utilize those networking contacts to learn about your industry, find job opportunities and find mentors for yourself. The more people you know, the better off you’ll be once you graduate. In today’s business world, who you know is as important as what you know.”
Rich also recommends adopting a mentor and setting both long-term and short-term goals for yourself. “Once you have your goals, stay focused on achieving them, no matter what challenges you encounter.”