- Develop Skill Sets Outside of the Classroom
While achieving academically has historically been an integral, if not the most important, aspect of a recent graduate’s profile as a job prospect, recruiters are looking beyond transcripts and GPAs more than ever before. In fact, according to a recent survey, many recruiters weigh a candidate’s internship experience in their industry, their intended major, and any leadership positions more heavily than that candidate’s GPA. This shows that many employers now look for a student’s ability to take what he or she has learned in school and apply it to real-life projects. And on top of hard skills (which are defined as quantifiable, teachable skills), employers are increasingly looking for outstanding soft skills, including attributes like communication, reliability, and ability to work in a team. These soft skills are almost completely developed in out-of-school, workplace environments.
You widen your chances of making quality connections that could change your career
2. Build out your resume
Many students are now turning to the emerging gig economy as it allows them to hone their skills while also producing developed work to bolster their resumes and portfolios. These gigs come in the form of Computer Science students coding apps, English majors writing blog posts and news articles, and designers mocking up websites. Small, individual projects are a good way to get your resume to stand out and even better talking points in interviews.
3. Get paid
Along with the career-oriented benefits of short-term projects and internships comes the perk of getting paid! An astounding 4 out of 5 college students work part-time, though mostly in low paying jobs that have nothing to do with what they study. Working in higher skilled jobs allows you to earn what you’re worth while gaining relevant experience.
Many people expect a lightbulb moment when they’ll realize their calling
4. Grow your professional network
Working while you’re in school also exposes students to a new network of professionals. Getting your name out to people in your dream company, or even just your dream industry, can open more doors than you would expect. Roughly 30% of internal and external hires are from employee referrals, a source that HR professionals trust more than any other. By exposing yourself to a wide breadth of companies through freelancing, you widen your chances of making the quality connections that could change the course of your career.
5. Find your passions
Most important is that you find what you love to do. When you’re in school, it can be easy to get caught up in assignments — finding what you love to do can get lost in the mix of getting good grades. And, many people expect a lightbulb moment when they’ll realize their calling. For most students, this isn’t the case. It can be hard for students to come to terms with this, as many feel they only have two summer internships to decide on a lifelong career. Freelancing to the rescue! One-time projects and short-term internships enable students to experiment in a variety of industries and roles. And remember — finding out that you don’t like something is just as valuable as finding out that you do.
This article was written by Kristen Mashikian