One of the world’s foremost concerns for the society at large is the openness and availability of education to all. Even better if everyone has the capacity to gain a meaningful higher education with some form of expertise in a trade or subject. A society of achievers and contributors is the ultimate goal.
Too bad, however, that even in this imperfect current scenario where education has not reached its ideal state, you have to worry about competing with all your fellow batch mates for finding jobs or securing a seat in a place of respectable higher education.
Even in this incomplete situation fraught with millions of perfectly capable individuals not even getting the chance to receive the bounties of education, there is still a dog-eat-dog real world on the other side of the convocation hall – ready to disappoint you with lack of employment opportunities, either due to a large percentage of college graduates being unemployed or in a mismatched profession to their education.
Unemployment or even underemployment, where the worker’s full potential is under-used, are all in the range of 1-8%, for unemployment, and 11-76%, for underemployment, among recent college graduates, in the US.
This epidemic of Graduate Unemployment is not a recent phenomenon. Back in 2008, unemployment among new graduates, according to the Labour Force Survey in UK, was 10.6%. In 2009, it was 18.5%. Horror stories like these usually go back as long as one can remember.
Even if the intention is to actually improve career possibilities by pursuing higher education, steep competition and high selectivity keep a lot of them away from taking on graduate school, after college.
At the very least a large number have to settle for either average grad schools and degrees that don’t particularly add any value to their career, or forego the whole drill and tend to their daily needs in some meaningless job.
Naturally so, prudence dictates that one does his best to do something additional, something quite marvellous, in fact, to stand apart from his fellow graduates.
Why? Well, for starters, profile building can distinguish you from others who are likely to graduate as a herd with the same credentials as you.
We offer a highly popular profile building service for graduates and those who are planning to apply to MBA programs in a few years. However, we didn’t have anything for college students who were reaching out to the MBA Crystal Ball team to ask what they could do before graduation. We hope this article helps.
In this article, we will establish some of the techniques that can help you build that marketable profile, while in college, that you can wear as a merit badge for further job searches or pursuing your dream degree.
How to build your profile in college
1. Choose your college, degree and major wisely
Needless to mention, the world recognizes brand, and its worthiness is never put to test more than when employers view your resume, or you, during an interview, for the brief few minutes.
The quality of your alma mater can create a positive image of you, even before you get a chance to show your, what should we say, umm…true colours. But the choice of degree and major is where you have to be extra careful.
Choice of a major should never be decided on the basis of a popularity contest.
Ask the many Engineering students who have simply chosen the degree to fulfil some random aspirations. Read Is university prestige and brand really important?
According to Aspiring Minds, one of India’s leading employability solutions company, a large percentage of engineering institutes produce graduates that are unemployable. There is a major skills gap and employer feedback suggest the lack of basic knowledge.
Such is the state of accredited education, even in established institutes, albeit not the top tier ones (Read Engineering Education in India- Reality, Hype, Problems).
Even the most so-called lucrative major can become useless if your heart is not set on it. So, even before you choose your major, you should definitely consider putting some serious thought into what suits you the most. ‘Coz a healthy dose of interest does help to keep everything else in perspective – motivation, future plans, career moves, and more.
2. Focus on more than your academics
It is obvious that college is the place to get a hook onto a specialization with a certificate as the ultimate reward. But it is also a fact that the years spent in college are a great window to explore more than academia.
Most employers and higher education degrees, like the MBA, seek candidates who have had the good sense to venture outside the textbook pages.
Take your time to indulge in extra-curricular activities. These will not only open up your mind to possibilities and interests that you may not have considered before, but also expose you to situations that develop your leadership, team work, collaborative, and creative spirit.
Try student clubs, organize events, and if possible, take your activity to a whole official level. Get the recognition for your efforts and you will come out with a multi-dimensional experience which is a guaranteed attractor to all modern employers.
So, a resume with the evidence of your dedication to things beyond your call of duty are a must to stand apart from others.
3. Learn relevant skills
Of course, this comes as a natural corollary to the above. If you dedicate time to develop skills as required by your projected profession or degree, after college, you can begin to compensate for your inexperience of working at a formal workplace.
Online job portals regularly post job requirements with details of the requirements for various positions. Familiarize yourself with the kind of expectations employers have, based on what you’d like to do and you are capable of.
Invest a small portion of your busy academic schedule to gain some of the skills – computer language, certifications, or even additional college electives – so you are significantly more prepared to apply yourself when you graduate.
4. Network with seniors
One of the best ways to get an insider insight of the world outside college and the opportunities, beyond, are from the people comprising it. Especially the ones who have followed the same trajectory you are on.
Interact with your college seniors and their contacts further, to build a healthy network. Be assured such networks are going to be quite handy in helping you review your resume, for having been there doing that not too long ago.
They can tell you the current demands from prospective hires. The truly helpful ones can even help you get referred for jobs or get in touch with you the people who may be looking for fresh blood.
5. Get a part-time job or internship experience
Nothing beats solid proof of having been in a workplace, however fresh and minor your role may be, as being in a workplace.
A lot of the dedicated undergrads, with a clear foresight for the future, manage to scavenge a summer stint at an internship opportunity in their field of study. Paid internships are the ideal way to go and can often be a part of the undergrad curriculum.
However, even if not, don’t spare any moves to connect with the people, you have been nexusing with, who may be able to help you out. You can use internship search portals or even cold call companies on whether they have some room to spare. Most will shrug you off but what have you got to lose!
Part-time jobs, on the other hand are for a longer stretch than say your summer stint at internship. However, they may not be in your field of study but just another means to make some extra dough. But you can still squeeze some mileage out of this by developing some of the soft skills we have talked about before – leadership, team work, etc.
At the end of the program, you may be able to obtain a raving review and recommendation from your boss for whatever venture you are planning to land after. Plus, keeping a steady job can say a lot about your dedication, integrity, and work values.
6. Volunteer for projects, social or academic
Of course, easier than getting an internship but effective too is engaging yourself in volunteer work, either in some social group like teaching kids, big brother/sister program, or perhaps the more academic kind where you work with a faculty member on a project.
Icing on the cake would be if your academic project leads to some publication or better still, a patent. Nevertheless, volunteering will lend you invaluable experience and not to mention the possibility of non-empty accolades when the responsible volunteer head or faculty writes you a recommendation.
7. Manage your Social Media and LinkedIn
Most employers, and even grad school admission committee members are quite savvy about researching the online persona of prospective candidates. Give up your teenage ways early and cleanse your social media off inappropriate pictures and messages, if you want to appear even remotely responsible and credible.
It is also wise to stay off of politically polarizing comments on the brink of a job search. Start building your LinkedIn profile early on and make sure your offline network, we talked about, are connected to you.
Set up your profile details such as they make the most marketable sense out of your background and get active on groups and regular posts relevant to your field. Recruiters tend to pick up on that. Read LinkedIn tips to improve your chances of getting a job.
Well, these are just some of the frostings you can add to your already advancing college educated profile so you don’t get lost in the crowd, like Waldo.
It never happens overnight and all the skills and frills you would like to assure your employers or future adcoms with, don’t develop over one weekend either. So, start early and take your time to polish what you have to offer once you are out in the real world.
- Best undergraduate degree for Business
- Setting goals for your first year of employment after college
- Unpaid internships can harm career prospects of international students
- How to convert summer internships into full time jobs?