Don’t Wait Until You’ve Finished Your College Studies to Start Preparing for Your Dream Job
Some adults returning to college know exactly what job they want and where they want to work. They’ve had several years to think about it since high school; they’ve worked in several fields already, and now have a clear focus on where they want to be professionally. Other adult college students have a pretty good idea of the industry in which they want to work, but don’t have a solid handle on the exact role. Still, others know the type of job they’d like, but they haven’t decided on the particular industry where they’d like to do that yet.
While you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do in your career and exactly where you want to do it before you start your college journey, there are three initiatives you can take along the way to pursuing your formal education that will help you discover where it is you are meant to be.
1. Volunteer Where You’d Love to Work
While some organizations and companies have formal volunteer programs, others may not have considered welcoming volunteers – until you came along. Think about where you’d love to work and contact the owner, the HR Department, or perhaps someone you know who works there, and see if you can volunteer for a few hours one day a week. It doesn’t matter what you do as a volunteer; just being in that environment will enable you to get an inside look at many of the behind-the-scenes activities that are not available to the general public. The experience will either affirm your decision to pursue a career in that industry or it will motivate you to consider other options.
The experience will either affirm your decision to pursue a career in that industry or it will motivate you to consider other options.
2. Shadow (or Interview) Professionals Who Have the Job You’d Love
Connect with professionals in your area of interest and see if you can “shadow” them a few times while they are on the job. If you cannot find a time convenient for the two of you to meet, see if you can interview them about their job and experiences. Perhaps you could offer to take the person to lunch to get information about why they chose their career, what they like most about it, and what they would do differently, or schedule a time to talk on the phone. After you’ve shadowed or interviewed professionals from your industry of choice, be sure to snail mail them a thank you note (including a gift card to a local eatery wouldn’t hurt either!).
3. Secure an Internship in an Industry that Interests You
Internships differ from volunteering because they are typically more formal with their requirements and formatting. An internship can last six weeks or six months and may include monetary compensation or even college credit. Securing an internship in an industry where you would like to work is invaluable. Internships often turn into a full-time job offer at the same company where they took place or they will lead to phenomenal references (if you do an exceptional job during the internship).
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Whether you choose to volunteer somewhere, shadow an expert, and/or commit to a formal internship, the experience will not only give you more substance for your resume but also enable you to have a more laser-focused perspective on what you’d really like to do. Ultimately (and ideally), your career of choice should be one that can finance your lifestyle, utilize your skills and talents, and enable you to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.