How to show an employer how much of a strong job candidate you are
If you still have some time to go before you graduate, you have a perfect opportunity to make things easy on yourself when it comes time to look for your first "real" job. Just get some experience related to what you want to do when you graduate. This is a "no-brainer". Just do it. Nothing (not even a 4.0 GPA) will be more valuable to you as you start looking for that first professional position than some real-for-sure, hands-on, related experience. Even if you have to work for free, do it if you can . . . it'll pay off in the end. Here's how to do it.
Where Can I Get Related Experience?
• Internships and Co-op Experience - If you can get into an internship or co-op position related to what you want to do after you graduate, do it. Don't even think about it . . . just do it! If your school has a career center, they often can help you find these positions. If not, start looking on your own. Target companies in your field and apply to them for summer work. Don't expect to run the place and don't expect to make a pile of money. Do expect to gain some valuable experience worth its weight in gold on your resume when you graduate.
• Part-time Jobs - If you work part-time to support yourself in school, try to find jobs that are related to your field. For example, if your major is finance, try to find a part-time job as a bank teller. No, you might not make as much money as you would make in tips waiting tables at a classy restaurant, but if you can get by financially, do it. And even if you have to wait tables, maybe you can try to get involved in areas related to your career goal. For example, if your major is advertising or public relations, maybe you can offer to help with the restaurant's advertising and promotional efforts. If your major is computer science, maybe you can write a custom program that helps your boss run his business.
• Professors - Is your major chemistry? Volunteer to be a lab assistant to your chemistry professor. Yes, you're going to spend a lot of time washing laboratory glassware but you may get to watch or participate in some experiments or research along the way, too. And putting this experience on your resume shows that you like working in a lab, otherwise why would you have volunteered to work there when you didn't have to?
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