Your internship and project experience can help you get your first job.
You have made the choice, you know what college you want to go to and the degree you will be pursuing. Will the next three or four years of college mould you into that engineer, banker or cinematographer that you always wanted to be? After college some of you may pursue post graduate studies while others will make the leap into the working world. In this article, we will take a look at how to make the most of your college education and prepare yourself for success.
Most students today go through an arduous process to get admission into the college and course of their choice. Once admitted the mistake a majority of students make is to assume that this is the part of their educational journey that can be taken lightly.
Sure, college can be fun, many of you will make lifelong friends and enjoy new unforgettable experiences but let’s look at what’s ahead. Towards the end of your college education you are going to be faced with one of two challenges, selling yourself to an admissions committee for PG studies or a recruiting team for a job offer. What you have accomplished in the last few years suddenly becomes very important and many students find that they are hugely lacking in this regard. So how do you prepare yourself? How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack? The first step is identifying what you want to do. What kind of work/research would you enjoy doing? The second step is to start building your resume (yes, build your resume before your first job!) while in college to target those specific goals and the final step is to effectively communicate your accomplishments to the committee reviewing your application.
Let’s take a real example: when I was in engineering college we learnt a number of different concepts and theories in the course of four years. At the end many students found themselves equipped with an arsenal of engineering facts and figures but helpless in trying to relate that information to the needs of potential employers.
The ones who were able to demonstrate this capability well were the ones who made the cut. These were the people who understood the requirements of the role/organisation they were applying for. In the engineering world, every product goes through a similar product development cycle. And each step in this cycle requires people with a different set of skills, for example: a product development engineer may require indepth technical expertise whereas a QA manager can do well with moderate domain knowledge but good team management skills. Spend time on this step, understand your field, the skills associated with different roles within it and how you can add value to the organisation you want to be a part of. This applies to just about any field.
The next step is to build your resume. Why is this important now? When you apply giving details of your internship and project experience, companies see that you have taken efforts beyond the requirements of your degree. Use these experiences to develop the skills you identified in step one. This is a big selling point!
Some of the research we have conducted in building the Pathways Program for college students shows that the time to bring new recruits to full productivity by companies can be as long as a year in India (due to lack of practical experience). With prior internship and project experience, organisations realise that you will be more useful to them quicker!
The last step of course is how to effectively showcase your achievements to potential employers or academic institutions. This relies heavily on your personal ability to communicate well, both written and verbal. This needs to be practised from the beginning.
Do not expect to get good at interviews or group discussions over night. Practise and practise more. Your college life maybe a lot of fun but use these years wisely to get a flying start on your career.
The writer is a Director at Pathways Program. www.pathwaysprogram.in