As students, we are often limited in the amount of time we can invest into getting experience (although there are clever ways around this). Then, graduating from college, we find ourselves competing for entry-level jobs with professionals who maybe have already been in the workforce for a few years. So how can you get around the vicious circle of “needing experience to get experience”?
As Gen Y, “digital natives”, or whatever label you give to our generation, we are growing up with a true advantage–a ready-made skill set. Technology, social media, touch typing–none of these sound strange and scary. We’re graduating during a time when reading about college drop-outs starting web companies is no longer unique nor surprising. We cannot imagine our lives without computers and the Internet and we’ve really learned how to use them, many of us mastering the field without ever taking an actual course.
What would happen if you focused your college years on acquiring more of these essential skills?
How would that differentiate you from all the other applicants for that important internship or your first job?
Build skills during college
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- video editing – video searches are on the rise and being able to put together and professionally edit a video presentation can be the make-or-break skill in an interview. Join the AV society at your college or simply volunteer in any other club. With the ability to record HD videos even on the iPhone, this does no longer have to be an expensive skill either.
- presentation design – learn how to make truly beautiful and powerful presentations and have something to showcase for it. Your future employers will appreciate the insight you gained when studying Presentation Zen.
- programming language/HTML – really master a programming language. (Real) understanding of IT and technology will still become more and more valuable. And there’s really no excuse with the amount of (often) free resources and tutorials online.
- project management – volunteer for projects during your college years. Take on responsibility and devise systems, schedules, learn to manage people. This will all be invaluable when you lose the training wheels and will be expected to work with initiative and without micro-managing later on.
- public speaking/foreign language/editing/event organisation/SEO/Photoshop/writing…the list could go on and on
What skills are you really going to work on in the next few months?
Anna is a Social Media Marketing Assistant at Pepsmedia, based in Cambridge, UK. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2010 with a degree in Social and Political Sciences, she joined the small team straight out of university and is now helping businesses engage with customers online and build communities. She is passionate about the use of social media both in business and for individuals. To find out more, read her Life With Social Media blog, or connect with her on Twitter @annamanasova and LinkedIn.