Chapter 6: Job Search and Networking
An excellent way to build your professional reputation, obtain references, refine your career goals, and build long-term networks is by gaining practical experience, especially if you have limited networks to begin with. Each of these opportunities will provide you with a solid network of contacts and valuable industry advice even before you start searching for your career.
- Part-time and summer employment: Employers are looking past the knowledge and skills you’ve gained in school, they are interested in seeing that you have obtained real-world experience. Securing a summer or part-time job while completing your studies will demonstrate to the employer that you have developed the employment readiness skills they are looking for. Gaining experience in different interest areas will also help to solidify your career goals and expand your connections.
- Job shadowing: Job shadowing is an opportunity for you to observe working professionals in their environment throughout their typical work day or week. This allows you to process information about an occupation and clarify your job goal. You are able to see hands-on how your learned skills translate into a particular work environment and job. To inquire about job shadowing opportunities, reach out to people in your network or contact companies of interest.
- Volunteer opportunities: Volunteering your time allows you to directly impact your community, meet new people, learn new valuable skills, advance your career, and increase your confidence. Additionally, volunteering introduces you to different environments and roles within an organization that will help you identify your interests within the field. You have the chance to cultivate valuable leadership opportunities through rewarding experiences. If you are interested in volunteering visit the Volunteer Centre, contact specific companies of interest, search their websites, or connect with community volunteer organizations like Volunteer London.
- Mentorship: Last, but not least, a good way to gain quality advice and industry know-how is by finding yourself a mentor. A mentor is someone who willingly shares their skills, knowledge, expertise, advice, and professional contacts with you throughout your career journey. A mentor can assist you in setting realistic career goals and making smart career decisions. Their wisdom can be beneficial, from finding a job after you graduate to moving up the company ladder. You can look within your current network for a mentor; this could be a professor, work or volunteer supervisor, or a family friend. If no one in your immediate network is in a position or industry that might interest you, research professionals on LinkedIn, reach out to your Alumni and Friends Network, or ask for referrals and contact them directly.