As we all know, the career market is a difficult one to break into for any recent graduate and, these days, job opportunities seem to be limited. Many students can end up graduating unprepared for the dreaded job hunt that awaits most of them. So regardless of what year you are in, it is important that you begin planning for your career now. This can seem daunting, especially if you are just an undergrad and have no idea what you want to do. Just know that by taking some steps now, it will be easier for you to achieve that “dream” job later on.

Here are some tips for jumpstarting your career while at Brock!

1. Define Your “Dream” Job

The first thing you need to do is to think about what defines your “dream” job. What is the job? Why do you want this job? What do you need to do in order to succeed at getting this job? Asking these types of questions will help you better understand what kind of career you want to pursue. It is important that you do some self reflection about what your skills, strengths and goals are. Even if you can’t decide completely on a particular job, finding out what field your interested is a good start. Take some time to research organizations and companies related to your field or career of interest. Learning about what they do and what they expect from their employees will provide you with somewhat of a starting point for your career path.

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2. Utilize Brock’s Career Services

As students we are very lucky to have access to so many valuable resources and services that can  advance our skills. You can stop by Brock’s Career Services at anytime or go online for help and advice on career planning and searching. They will work with you one-on-one to review your resume, help you prepare for interviews, as well as provide support for developing your portfolio – that’s just to name a few.  Career Services can also direct you to the right places for any questions you might have on internships, working abroad, volunteering opportunities, and anything else career related.

Remember, a unique addition to any resume and cover letter is your Experience Plus transcript. This is an official document verified by Brock that shows the skills and experiences you have gained while attending university.

3. Build Your Brand

In this age of social media, we have so much accessibility to online tools as a way of branding ourselves to future employers. You can easily present your personal brand, representing who you are, what you stand for and what you have to offer to anyone interested in collaborating with you. Take the time to develop a professional social media presence by creating a Linkedin profile or your own website. It’s also a good idea to develop a portfolio to share with future employers. You can include design or art work, articles you’ve written or any other samples relevant to the position you are applying for.

If you’re interested, check out the book: “Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job . Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media”.

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4. Develop New Skills

I think we can all agree that these days employers have higher expectations of their job candidates and are looking for much more than just an education and work experience. They want to see applicants who shine above the rest with volunteer experiences that relate to their industry and transferable skills like written communication and public speaking, This is also the perfect time to refine your resume, cover letter and interview skills.

5. Test the Waters

What better way to truly know what your dream job is and what to expect from it by “trying” it out first. Connect with organizations and companies associated with your desired career and intern or volunteer with them. This will give you an inside look of your preferred industry, allowing you to determine whether it’s the best fit for you. You can ask insider questions, gain practical experience, build your skills and network with other professionals.

Check out CareerZone. It is regularly updated with available job and volunteer postings in many different fields!

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6. Network

We’ve all heard it a million times, networking is one of the most important things you can do when preparing for your career. Get involved with organizations that you can  work with in the future, that you can get stellar references from, or that will help connect you with similar organizations that have job opportunities. Get in touch with friends and family to see if they have their own networks that they can connect you with. You should also consider attending networking events and job fairs. These events have lots of great career resources and are great places to meet other people in the same field as you.

Make connections and keep in touch!

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7. Explore All Your Options

The most exciting thing about thinking and planning for your career is that you have so many options to choose from. Most of us are very lucky because we have the freedom to explore many different career possibilities and life experiences. If you already know exactly what you want in a career, still take the time to dabble in different interests and hobbies. Most of the time, people land in jobs that they never expected to have, so don’t cross anything out. If you have no idea what you want in a career just yet, don’t worry, you’re not alone! There are many other things you can do instead of diving into the work force immediately after graduation. Volunteer, teach abroad, travel, start your own company, or continue your education…now is the time to truly explore your interests and have fun. The world is your oyster, so shuck away!