Did you graduate recently but are still jobless? Are you wondering why? I have one question for you – what makes you remarkable?
Although there are glimmering signs of life in the economy, the job market is still tight. Tight translates to competitive. If you spent the last four (or five or so) years of your college experience attending class and not much else, you are at a distinct disadvantage compared to your peers that worked their way through college, sought out internships, held leadership positions in student organizations, or sought out other ways to build their skills.
While you cannot change the past, you certainly can take charge of your future. Here are some examples of ways to be remarkable:
(1) Volunteer. Seems obvious and simple, right? Not really. Being a valuable volunteer consists of much more than showing up once or twice at a homeless shelter to dish out mashed potatoes. To enhance your résumé and develop skills, seek out a volunteer opportunity that consists of an ongoing commitment. Become a Big Brother/Big Sister, educate young people on business with Junior Achievement, or be a Special Olympics coach. The possibilities to get involved in your community are endless. Making a commitment to be a volunteer on an ongoing basis will hold more weight with potential employers as well as give you experiences to highlight your skills during interviews.
(2) Join an organization – and get involved. Joining an organization just because it is related to your major or degree doesn’t make much sense if opportunities to get involved, gain experience and network don’t exist. Be intentional with your involvement. Need to develop public speaking skills? Join Toastmasters. Want to gain event planning experience? Research local non-profit organizations to identify if they hold a yearly event. Contact the committee chair to offer to help. While you may only play a small role, you will gain knowledge, experience, and contacts.
(3) Pay it forward. Join AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a national service program designed to specifically to fight poverty. While serving, members receive a living stipend, health coverage, student loan forebearance, and other benefits. After successfully completing a year of service, participants also receive an educational award to pay off student loans or to finance graduate school. A related service opportunity with similar benefits is City Year. New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and Miami are just some of the exciting cities you can make a difference in, as well as earn valuable leadership and interpersonal skills.
(4) Start a charity or non-profit. Is there a need in your community that you would like to see filled and are passionate about? Go for it! Starting a non-profit will develop numerous skills: fund-raising, communication, leadership, project managment, not to mention the networking opportunities. Many non-profit organizations allow individuals to start a local chapter and provide support and training.
There are several other ways to be remarkable: volunteer for a political campaign, join the national guard, teach English in a foreign country, start your own company. The key is that it takes time and dedication. You must be willing to invest in your future to be remarkable.
Claudine Meilink is a Career Services Consultant for the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Among other things, Claudine provides career and major counseling to students and alumni, teaches a Career Leadership Academy for freshmen and sophomore students and serves on the Service Engagement Advisory Board. Claudine would love to connect with you on twitter or LinkedIn.