Career management is a lifelong task. It is an active process in which you will track your goals and then correct them as you accumulate knowledge and work. The more you check in on your career and plan future goals, the more you will come to enjoy your work.
- Maintain and update your resume or CV every six months. You will be amazed at what can change and at what you have accomplished.
- Volunteer in your community; choose projects or programs you care about that fit your values and skills. Choose organizations that will introduce you to people you may otherwise not meet.
- Talk to your support system about your career plans, check in with mentors and those whose opinion you value.
- Read about your profession, new developments and leaders in your field.
- Join professional organizations that are specific to your industry. Network with others in your field, attend conferences and workshops and share best practices.
- Remain open to new ways in which to work and meet other people. Engaging in your hobbies and interests may provide opportunities that you never anticipated.
Build a professional network
Professional networking must play an important role throughout your career. If you want to achieve professional success, you should start career networking as quickly as possible.
If you know you are about to speak with a potential employer, have something relevant to talk about. Build your knowledge of the organization you would like to work for before you make that critical first impression.
Attend career events
Whether a social event is organized by your college or the community where you live, you can use this as an excellent opportunity for connecting with influential people.
Connect via social media
Use social networking platforms to connect with influential people online. Participate in online conversations on social media websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Get in touch with employers, industry experts, recruiters, passionate people, and others.
Meet as many people as you can
While you are studying in college, you should never hesitate to meet with as many people as possible. Introduce yourself to faculty, staff and other students. You never know who you will meet by regularly interacting with a wide variety of people.
Never lead with your need
A proper conversation never revolves around one person. You may need an internship or a job, but that need will not qualify you for one. A professional exchange of appropriate information, however, can lead to new opportunities.
If you want to expand your network and benefit from it too, you need to become an active listener. Listening is a great skill, which you can use to attract a lot of people. So, don’t just speak. Let other people share their point of view.
Before you finish networking, remember to ask for that individual’s contact information…and use it. Try to follow up with your new contacts within 48 hours via e-mail.
Your first job
You will graduate and leave behind the daily grind of attending classes, writing papers and getting graded by semester. This is an exciting time and also a very new transition. What are the expectations for your first post-graduate opportunity?
For the first 3-6 months, you will be doing work with guidance from your supervisor. Listen more than you talk. Take advantage of your one-one meetings with your boss and be open and receptive to feedback. Ask questions such as:
What are your expectations of me? Do you think I am learning the skills I will need in order to accomplish this? Where should my focus be right now? How am I doing? Establish a perfect attendance record
- Prepare for meetings, always do your best work and show up on time.
- Get to know your coworkers. What do they do each day and how could you support each other’s work?
- Communicate openly and with a positive attitude. Assume the best of others and ask direct questions with curiosity: “Hey, I have a quick question about x thing. I want to make sure I understand my role. Can we chat about it before the end of the day?”
- Avoid office gossip. Look for the best in others and always act and speak with helpful intent.
- Find a mentor by interacting with colleagues in your office who have experienced success at work. You will naturally gravitate to some more than others. Ask them if you could meet for lunch on occasion.
- Reach out to peers who have the same or similar roles and ask them for advice. Include questions about how long it took them to feel as if they grasped the role, extra training they did or things they think you could work on. They have wisdom to share that will benefit your performance.
- Stay focused on your work. Try to keep your personal business to a minimum (checking personal social media accounts, making dinner reservations, buying things online, etc.).
- Set and accomplish realistic goals. Run everything by your supervisor so you can feel confident initiating your own projects and contributing as only you can with your unique blend of talents.
- Track your accomplishments and continue adding to your resume. Generally, people accept you leaving your first job if you have given at least 18 months. This means you made it through at least one review cycle and accomplished something valuable.
As a final note, always remember that you are now representing yourself as a professional. Your industry is smaller than you might think and your reputation is crucial to allowing yourself to be open for future opportunities. Be positive about your work and organization. Avoid office gossip. Always look for the best in your colleagues and act and speak with helpful intent. A reputation for working hard and being kind to others will serve you well the rest of your life.