It has been a long road to obtaining my degree and I have learned many lessons that I would like to share with you.
1. Know Yourself
One of the most rewarding things in life is to know one’s self. The sooner you know yourself, the better because it will save you from focusing your efforts on the wrong things (and switching your major constantly). Most people are complex and this might be harder than it seems, but it is a crucial step in finding and getting a job that you will love.
2. Understand what motivates you
Figure out what motivates you and why. This is important in your college career because knowing what motivates you and applying it will pull you through those slumps. Knowing what motivates you is important in your job search because it will help you identify what types of careers to focus on and what companies to seek out.
A mentor of mine once told me that a person is most successful when she aligns her passions with her intrinsic skills. This is why it is important to know and understand what you are passionate about and what you do not like. Knowing yourself will help you identify opportunities that you should pursue and ones that you should steer clear of.
3. Identify intrinsic skills and weaknesses
Identify the skills that are intrinsic to you. These skills are what make you unique and what set you apart from others. For example, you may easily connect with others or you may be quick to understand complex ideas. Natural abilities such as these should be recognized within yourself and understood so that you will be able to match your skills with the right job and understand the value that you will add to the company that you choose to work for.
When you have identified your skills, you then must identify and understand your weaknesses. Why? Besides the obvious reason that the question “What are your weaknesses?” is almost always in the arsenal of a hiring manager’s interview questions, this question is important to help you identify room for personal growth. So get a head start and ask yourself this question and then dissect the weaknesses you find within yourself and see which ones you can you can learn to turn into strengths and which ones you will need to counteract with your intrinsic skills I discussed earlier.
4. Scan the market
When scanning the market you must keep in mind that your dream job is obtainable, no matter what it is, as long as you’re willing to put the time into getting it. Fear and negativity trips most people up. They assume they will never be able to get there because they are not smart enough, or they didn’t get into the right school. While some of this negative self-talk may be true, you don’t need to attend an Ivy League school to get your dream job. There are multiple roads to get to your destination and your journey is what will set you apart from your peers. So leave these self-made obstacles at the door and learn to dream big. It’s important to think long term, look for jobs with companies that you can grow with. When you find a company that has similar values to those that you hold, search their career website for current openings and read the job descriptions to see which ones appeal to you most.
5. Identify synergies between intrinsic skills and skills needed to be successful in your chosen career.
Once you have a few ideal jobs that you have chosen with companies that you respect then you should dissect each position to figure out what it is that the company needs.
When you have a good idea of what the company wants, identify the skills and the character traits within yourself that you discovered in the first step, and find synergies between your skills and what the company is looking for. After you have identified the synergies, focus on the requirements that you lack and create a plan to build those capabilities within yourself.
6. Create a strategy.
Now that you have identified what jobs are of interest to you and what you need to be a viable candidate for those positions, then you need to create a strategy that will lead to an offer upon graduation. This means you must develop leadership skills by taking on projects and running for officer positions in organizations.
You must increase your network so that you can develop qualified references. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn are great for developing contacts with employees of the companies you hope to work for. Build relationships with industry experts by asking them questions or advice related to their business (people love to give advice!).
7. Secure the offer.
By this time you should know everything about the companies and the line of business that you have a desire to work for. You should understand how you would add value to the company through your intrinsic skills. You should have a “brag file” of all of your accomplishments, honors, and awards that you have achieved.
Lastly, you should determine your worth. This is the culmination of all your skills, knowledge and characteristics that you’ve developed that will add value to the company’s bottom line. Additionally, it is important to know the average going rate for an employee in the position you desire so that you can negotiate a fair salary. Websites such as Glass Door are great tools for finding this information.