University is the perfect time to start your career. Even though most of the time is about academics, these formative years provide you with many opportunities to connect and network that will jump start your professional career. Making smart moves while you’re still an undergraduate will make it easier when it comes to finding a job after you graduate. With classes about to start soon, here are 5 tips that will give you a headstart in your career.
1) Engage in class - Don’t just sit in the back row with your headphones in, eyes closed and staring into nothing. Sit up front, ask questions and actively engage. Make yourself known to the professor and even attend their office hour sessions. Professors come with tons of connections, whether that be former students, teaching colleagues or industry insiders. A positive relationship with your teachers not only leads to better grades but they become a valuable contact and resource for your job search later on.
2) Connect with other staff, faculties and LGBT+ groups - Being enrolled at a university gives you common ground to engage with every single person on campus. Do your research about who could help you and get in touch with them. They can offer you career advice, help you land an internship or even a job. Most universities have their own LGBT+ network, that focuses on LGBT+ issues and events. Joining will not only get you in touch with a variety of LGBT+ individuals on campus but will open doors for all sorts of things. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose.
3) Networking events - Every university offers networking events for students, staff and alumni. Attending these events will help you make connections with individuals that were just like you. They know your struggles and your worries because they were in the same boat as you just a few years ago. Need an ice breaker to get a conversation started? The same university is a good start.
4) Stay connected. After making valuable connections make sure you stay in touch with them. Social Media platforms such as myGwork, Facebook and LinkedIn offer you ways to stay in touch with individuals you met on campus. myGwork members are always happy to connect with other LGBT+ individuals that are looking to get started in the industry. They offer advice, insights and you can ask them for a coffee or lunch. Many members even offer mentorships that lead to further connections and often also jobs. Make sure you keep your profile up to date to make the most out of it.
5) Be yourself. There is no reason to pretend you are something that you’re not. Being able to be authentic and true to yourself shows confidence. Never be afraid to ask questions, after all you are a student. Nobody expects you to know everything. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key. And just because you’re not an expert in the field doesn’t mean that you can’t be one soon. Show a willingness to learn and be prepared to work hard. Understanding who you are and what experiences you can bring will take you a long way.
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