How to Prepare Yourself for a Great Career
Preparing yourself for a career can be hard, especially in a competitive environment. Here are two things you can do to become a better prospect.
It is not hard to see that the job market is becoming harder for students by the day. Recently, I came across a post on Medium of a young man completely bad-mouthing his university and degree. He believed that it was a waste of his time and felt like he spent three hard years to come out a failure.
For many students today, it will take them 6–12 months of constant applying and getting rejected before they land a half-decent job. Only a few can walk out of university with a job they want.
So, with an ever-increasing competitive market, what are some of the things students can do to better prepare themselves for their careers? I am not an expert career advisor, and I am certainly not the smart type where their grades can do all the talking. I would put myself in the bang average student category.
I was 18 when I applied for my dream company on a degree apprenticeship program and 20 when I got the role I wanted. However, over four years (16–20), I did a range of things that helped me get the job I wanted.
There are of course general things, like networking, having a good CV and interview practice. All of these things are still valid. But there are two unique things you can do to give yourself an edge over the rest.
Invest in Your Personal Development
All the students right now are probably sitting there thinking, “yeah, with what money?”
When I was 16, I got a job sweeping the floor at a barbershop to afford a few cheap leadership courses and programs run by the government. If you do not have the money, some courses are even free. There are places like Future Learn and Open University that offer a range of free courses to choose from. For crying out loud, even Google has a free coding course.
There are opportunities everywhere for students to better their prospects. The main problem is we do not seek to invest in it. We would rather be spoon-fed everything and hope for the opportunity to come our way. And I blame this partly on the education system, but mainly on students.
Yes, the system is set up in a way that allows students to glide through. There are many support networks in universities and schools, and we get used to the answers we need being easily accessible. However, the real world does not, and will never, work like that.
If we say we want great careers, then we must act as though we truly want it. Part of doing so is putting your money where your mouth is and investing to prepare for your career.
Connect with people on LinkedIn and find out the soft skills you need. Think about the different areas of learning you can branch out into so that you are a better-rounded prospect. Go all out with trying to learn the skills that are desirable for your field and career.
Having a degree is only part of the story, and I wish someone told that angry LinkedIn student that earlier. You need to have the ambition to put yourself in the place you need to be.
So, delete the Netflix account, get a cheaper phone or cut Spotify. Do what you need to do to find the extra money you need a month to start building your soft and hard skills. If I could do it through sweeping hair at a barbershop at 16, I think you can do it too.
Take Contributing to Society Seriously
As students, we tend to forget that we benefit from society much. Here in the UK, we get student loans, do not have to pay things like council tax and get special health services through our university. That is only to name a few.
We have been so used to benefiting from society, we forget that our career has that one mission. Hopefully, it will be fulfilling and lead to much success in your own life, but your job exists to bring about a better society.
You will have customers to serve and work on projects that will impact many people. We spend a lot of the time viewing our careers in a selfish light. I especially find it worrying when medicine students or future teachers do this too.
Yes, your career will pay you. It will also help you build wealth for your future generations. And it may even bring about some good friends along the way. But to dedicate one’s life to a career is not a selfish act, it is a selfless one. And the faster you learn and practice that, the better.
I used to be very materialistic driven, so I get the whole salary and good work-life balance thing. However, we will only enjoy our careers when we love the change we are making in the world. For many, I have found that when they view a career like this, they even change their careers.
Some students have told me if they were to see it like that, they would make no money because they would have a low paying job. But if these are the things you are truly passionate about, then pursue them in your day to day lives.
If you believe that your career choice will make a difference in society, what differences do you believe they are? Will it make people happier, healthier or give people more opportunities. Whatever it is, start doing it for free first.
Volunteer, take part in community events and build a network of people that value what you do. Your future employees do not just want to see you are competent enough to do the job, they want to see you are passionate about their mission.
I showed this in my interview at 18 years of age by completing a range of school programs. I volunteered to teach students physics and maths and encouraged them to get into Aerospace. I went to university events and offered my help in the engineering departments.
So, begin showing your passion for the change you believe you are bringing to the world through your career. Seek out opportunities, put them on your CV and speak about them in your interview.
Even if you do not get the job, I guarantee you will walk out of that interview room with your head held high, knowing that you are making the difference you want to see.
Although my career choice has changed now, at 18 years of age, all I wanted to do was become an Aerospace engineer. I desired to work in an established company and work in research. At 18, I got into one of the biggest aerospace companies in the world, and at 20, I was able to work in the department I wanted to.
These two things helped me get there, and I believe they will help anyone seeking a career. So to summarise:
- Invest in your personal growth
- Take contributing to society seriously
I assure you, if you do these things with consistency and hard work, you will get the career you want. And I hope it is the one that will make you happy too.
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.