The job market is competitive and will continue to be so for years to come. Recruiters and hiring managers are always looking for ways to find the best employees on the job market. Internship programs and part-time jobs are ways that employers find new hires, often promoting them to full time employees once they’ve graduated. It’s through this type of employment that companies can expose you to future career opportunities, see if you’ll fit in with the culture, and teach you the fundamental skills you need to succeed at the organization.
The students I advise often ask me what employers look for and what they can do to improve their skills. Employers look for employees who can get the job done. As a college student you’ll usually find the most beneficial experiences through internships and part-time jobs. You’ll have the chance to build the skills that employers are looking for such as how to analyze information, plan events, manage projects, use various software programs (Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Visio and Access), and present your ideas in writing and presentations.
Explore Career Paths
While you’re in college, having internships and part-time jobs not only makes you a more ideal candidate for the jobs you might want down the road, but also helps you decide what those jobs might be in the first place. Throughout your college years, you might have a part-time job on campus, a summer internship in a law firm, and a school term internship at a public relations company. You’ll be testing the waters in a variety of work settings. During all of those experiences, you will see different jobs and career paths and decide if those options might be a fit for you.
Establish a Professional Network
As a student, you do need to be thinking about your personal brand and how to connect with people in a professional setting. View the people you’re working with in your internships and part-time jobs as colleagues and act accordingly. Here are a few tips:
- Always do high quality work
- Be a team player when working on group projects
- Treat others with courtesy and respect
- Pull your own weight
- Take the time to get to know your co-workers- invite them to lunch or coffee
- Schedule informational interviews
These behaviors will help you build a strong personal brand, and your supervisors and colleagues will take notice and remember you- even after you part-time job or internship has ended.
Markell Steele is a career counselor who helps frustrated job seekers find career direction. She works with clients in her private practice, Futures in Motion, Inc. and on-campus as Counseling Manager, Graduate Student Services at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In her role as career counselor, Markell guides her clients in discovering career options that integrate their interests, skills, and passions. She is also the author of Fast Track Your Career.