For most young aspiring professionals, preparation for the future begins very early. In addition to applying to school and selecting a major, we must be mindful of what else we have going on in our lives.
Most young people in school work part time or seasonal positions for some extra cash, but little do they know that their experience behind the cash register or in the kitchen can really set them apart as they progress into the professional realm, otherwise known as "the real world." There are three aspects to consider, consisting of the resume, references and the dreaded interview.
When it comes to crafting the perfect resume, we must bear in mind that employers want the best of the best. However, this sort of pressure can worry young professionals, because they may feel as if they lack sufficient experience. How can one acquire a position if they don't have experience?
At the college age, employers are not looking for three or more years of related experience in the field and multiple degrees. They want to see that you are capable of working with other people, that you can operate general computer programs and that you can answer the phone without hanging up on someone just because you find their voice annoying.
Putting any and all kinds of volunteer and work experience will give you an edge in that the employer will know that you do not need any sort of coaching in relation to those sort of aspects that are seen in the workplace as common knowledge.
Many people will claim they have no experience, but nothing could be further from the truth. You do not need to have been promoted at the same place of employment every year to be considered successful on a resume. Volunteer and extracurricular work can serve a purpose. It may not have been paid or structured, but it is still experience nonetheless. It is all about telling that human resources department that you are competent and capable of working for their company in the role in which you're interested.
In addition to a strong resume, having a list of reliable references can set you apart from other candidates. You do not want to put down a random neighbor who may happen to work in a successful law firm as a reference if they don't really have sufficient information to provide in a phone call or email in reference to you. However, your manager at your part time job or the sponsor of the club you run may be a bit more helpful in that regard.
With all of this being said, these administrative necessities do not necessarily land you a job; the interview is what seals the deal. People often throw themselves off guard when they think about interviews. That sort of drilling one-on-one questioning and conversation can be a bit intimidating, but it's all about being confident and in control. You do not want to appear nervous in any way, but you definitely don't want to convey an arrogant image either. There is a certain balance in how one should present themselves in an interview setting. It requires being confident and knowledgeable of one's abilities on the inside and projecting that image through your dress and appearance. You should show up early, but not too early, and nicely dressed. You may not need a full business suit, but you should definitely not show up in jeans and a T-shirt. If you enter looking like you know what you're talking about, the interviewer will most definitely notice.
So as you continue to take classes and learn more about your field of choice, don't forget to keep your resume updated and pristine! You'll be much more relaxed and prepared in the long run when it comes time to enter..."the real world."