You cannot get a job without experience, yet you need experience to get a job in the first place. That age-old question has frustrated college students for eons, and it is all the worse in this current job market with fears of a coronavirus resurgence. Whether you are looking for your first job or internship, just how are you supposed to stand out now?
I am not going to pretend that there is an easy, simple answer to get your resume to the head of the line. But there are a few things which can be done to improve your chances.
Make New Friends and Contacts
Most people call this "networking," but that is such an awful word for many reasons. As Liz Reyer with the Boston Herald notes, networking carries this transactional connotation which in many ways defeats the entire purpose. Networking needs to be about making contacts, as opposed to thinking about what this person can do for you at some corporate meeting venue.
How to network better is a topic in and of itself, but the most important thing is to simply be out and visible. And under the current conditions, it is easier than ever to be visible from the comfort of your room. Talk to your friends or college counselors about events, whether physical or online, which you can attend and meet people. When you meet people, actually take the time to learn about them as a person and not just what their occupation is. Show yourself as presentable and knowledgeable, and you will network better and make it easier to get a great internship.
You have multiple social media accounts and perhaps you consistently post pictures on Instagram or tweet. But there is an actual art to creating an online presence which stands out.
For many majors, you should strongly consider building your own, actual website. Building a website is not that difficult if you use providers such as WordPress. Once your website is complete, you should use it to regularly write or showcase actual pieces of work. Anyone can send a pithy tweet or short video, but it is another thing to produce an excellent longform essay or movie with actual production value.
Stop Comparing Yourself
While being online and having a good social media presence is important, a major risk is when you start comparing yourself with every friend whose life on social media appears to be so much better than yours. But do not forget. When you are on Facebook or LinkedIn, you are comparing yourself with all of your foibles with the dressed-up, fake version of people. It is no different from how your resume lists all your accomplishments and not that big screw-up you made at your high school job.
Comparing yourself will harm your mental health, which can result in hasty decisions, paralysis, and even depression. While cutting yourself off from social media may be a step too far, consider limiting your social media presence to prevent yourself from making comparisons. Alternatively, use comparisons as a tool to figure out what are the things you need to improve on the most, and you can make yourself that much more valuable on this job market.