Five steps for students to build the career of their dreams

Get as much practical experience as possible and be naturally curious about what others do.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

The teenage years are an exciting time in a student’s life when they start learning to deal with new experiences and expectations, not just in terms of their academics but also about their careers. Some decisive steps during this time can help them avoid the indecision and anxiety of making the right choice. Here are five key transitions that students will have to make to help them build the career of their dreams.

Learn and develop for the real world

In school, students see their strengths in terms of subjects. That is why they prepare themselves to do better in those. However, the workplace functions on a completely different dynamic, where all challenges and opportunities come in the form of people, technology or money. This creates a gap between academic learning and real-world expectations, thereby forcing students to wonder if they have the right skills. Thus, the need is to fill this gap by helping young learners have a wholesome understanding of the real world.

A behind-the-scenes view

To make a choice about which stream to pursue, students need first-hand knowledge/experience of what actually happens in their field/industry of interest. But internships for high school students are not yet popular, so industry-partnered courses can fill this gap. The exposure to various professions, job options and skill development at a young age can help students identify their potential and give them the ability to choose the right career.

Build processor, not hard drive

Critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills might be dismissed as ‘soft skills’ by some, but these are the key skills to employability and all recruiters primarily look for these. So if studying different subjects is like ‘adding content to a hard disk’, developing these skills is like ‘upgrading the processor’. All in all, students need to identify a proper combination of passion, skillset and degree that blend well.

Show, don’t tell

Credentials don’t guarantee success but they cut through the noise. Whether right or wrong, recruiters give freshers with credentials the ‘benefit of doubt’. To access opportunities without credentials, students can build a portfolio of real-world outcomes they have achieved. For example, a portfolio matters more than a CV in the case of a designer. For a coder, their github becomes a highlight. Hence, students should grab the opportunities that showcase their skills and reach out to industry leaders on LinkedIn and ask for job shadowing, internships or practical work experience so they have something to talk about in their interviews, personal statements and group discussions.

Jack of all arts AND master of one

Today, most job roles are becoming cross-functional. So the best strategy is to build a profile to resemble a ‘T’ shape, which basically means to build a width of exposure and depth of expertise. For instance, tech folks can create apps or build products only if they have an understanding of end-user experience. Similarly, marketers have to analyse data to understand the dynamics of the market including customer behaviour. So developing technological and business acumen as well as entrepreneurial thinking is key to execute new tasks with ease. And how to get this exposure? It is by getting as much practical experience as possible in high school and college and being naturally curious about what others do.

The writer is the Co-Founder, and CEO of Clever Harvey.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2021 2:57:02 AM |

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