Here’s the deal. While you’re in college you have a chance to figure out a direction you want to pursue. Even if you don’t know exactly what job you want when you graduate, I know that you have an idea of what you want to do. Now is the time to be brave and take a risk. The stakes are low. You get to make mistakes and you get to change your mind. So go for it. Try a company and see how you like it. You won’t regret it.
Test drive a company.
How do you a try a company? You look for an internship or maybe a co-op. Internships let you explore different jobs and careers during the summer instead of doing things like working retail or lifeguarding. Basically, co-ops allow you to work for a semester then return to school. Co-ops give you the chance to explore potential careers over a longer period of time than your summer break. Your school placement office has a list of internships that you can look it. If you don’t see a fit, you’ll have to look for your own. Good think you know how to use Google!
What are your work values?
How can you figure out what you’re really interested in? How can you recognize an opportunity that’s right up your alley but you’ve never thought about it before? Start by thinking about your values, your passion, your interests, and your skills. The most successful work matches happen when your values match the values of the company you’re interested in. Make a list of the skills you like to use the most and how you like to use them. Memorize them. You’re going to use this list.
Explore your career dreams.
Then figure out if there’s a problem out there in the world that you really want to help solve. Companies are looking for problem solvers. Are you secretly thinking you’d like to be involved in running the world one day (also known as politics) but you’re reluctant to share that with other people? Do you have an idea that you know will make life better for a group of people? Since you’re just looking for an internship, this is the time to explore and claim your most cherished career dreams.
Once you’ve figured out the problem you want to solve or better defined the work you want to pursue, do your research. Do you know companies that work in that space? Ask around and see if people you know have some ideas. People want to help you. Let them! Google key words that apply to your career dream. See what comes up – both jobs and companies.
Use what you learn to refine your search for companies and jobs in your target space. Look at the companies’ mission statements and strategic objectives to see if they match your values and skills. Read the company blog, look them up on glassdoor.com or indeed.com and see what their employees say about them, read articles about them. Imagine working there.
Finally, network. Ask your parents and their friends and your friends and their parents if they know someone at your target companies. You’re looking for an introduction to someone who knows more about the company and its mission. Btw, one of the most effective platforms for this type of research and networking is LinkedIn. When you network on LinkedIn (they call it connecting), you can search companies and see if your connections know anyone at your target companies. You can use that information to network your way to talking to a person in your target company. Keep networking and researching until you find a way to someone in the company who will talk to you. Then you’re on your way.
Take a risk!
You can do this. Take a risk. Do your research, then go out and make a ferocious effort to move in the direction of your dream career.
Watch. Read. Learn.
Watch: How to Find Your Passion