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5 Things You Can Do in College to Become a Better Candidate

By August 30, 2022No Comments
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When I was looking for internships I had the hardest time just getting to the interview stage, let alone getting hired. Every time it was the same reason. I didn’t have any experience. I thought it was ridiculous because internships are a way for people without experience to learn new skills. I figured if it was this hard to get an internship, it would be nearly impossible to get a job. So I did everything in my power to make myself a stellar candidate…and it paid off. If I had to do it all over again, here’s exactly what I would’ve done.

Join Organizations

It’s not just enough to join an organization and be an active member. While joining organizations and learning more is a great start, the real experience is in leadership. Find an organization that’s relevant to your major or target job and be an incredibly active member. Network and become close with all the executive board members, and then join them. Take that executive position and bring it to the next level. Make measurable improvements during your time in that position that you can put on your resume. 

Don’t just stop there though. Get in touch with the professor that sponsors or is the head of the organization and schedule a meeting with them to talk about your role, the changes you plan to make to it, and ask for their input. Keep up this relationship! Oftentimes these professors are plugged into the market and have connections at companies you might be interested in working for. And believe it or not, professors like to recommend students they’ve worked closely with for these roles. Be one of those students.

Do Your Certifications

I’m not talking about the little certifications, simulations, and training courses your classes might have you do. While helpful, they aren’t going to be your best use of time outside of a few points in the grade book. Instead get certified in applications marketers use every day like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or Hubspot Marketing to name a few. These certifications will allow you to not only understand complex systems, but prove your knowledge and ability to navigate them.

If the organization you joined above hosts any competitions, join in on them and see if you can place in them. Demonstrate you can apply what you learned. There’s a handful of organizations that have professional chapters in major cities as well and they will recognize your participation and accolades within these organizations. The American Marketing Association is a great organization with tons of opportunities for students and professionals to grow. 

Find Unique Minors

A minor might not be required to graduate from your major. It might not even show on your transcript. However, if you can take on those 4-5 extra classes to minor in another subject, do it! Use this time wisely though; don’t choose a minor that’s too closely related to your major. For example, if your major is marketing, don’t minor in advertising. Instead, look into minoring in psychology, rhetoric, writing, philosophy, or even art history.

Some universities also have learning programs that are just a few classes long that show on your transcript and get you a physical certification. Florida State University has a program called the Global Citizenship Certificate that teaches students about cultural differences. A handful of the classes that count toward this certification are marketing related as well. Take advantage of these if you have the extra hours to put in.

Take on More Internships than You Think You Should

Internships are one of the most beneficial things you can do to make yourself a better candidate. If you can, try to take on one internship each year you are in college leading up to your job search. If you really want to go all out, I would suggest getting an internship at a different company each year that has a different industry focus. This will make sure you have a diverse set of skills and get to see how different companies are structured before you start applying for jobs. It also helps you learn what work environments best suit you.

Internships also often lead to employment. Think of your internships as one long interview. Take it seriously! Be professional, be on time, and strive to learn as much as possible. The good thing about this process is that it also allows you to interview the company as well. Sometimes the best thing you learn from an internship is what you aren’t looking for in a future employer.

Network with Professionals and Build Those Relationships

Having a network in the area that you’re looking to work in is a huge help and a lot of students overlook it when thinking about post-grad life. It can be hard to build a network when you’re still taking classes, but get involved in organizations on and off campus. If you’re unsure about where to turn to find these connections, look at local networking events or organizations that are specific to your field/demographics. Good people like to help good people. Having those connections in your back pocket when you’re ready to start job hunting is invaluable. We all know the saying, “It’s who you know not what you know.”

Don’t make the mistake of neglecting those connections. Keep up with them on LinkedIn and interact with their posts, email them every once in a while and grab a coffee to chat over. If you’re an introvert and nothing sounds more terrifying than grabbing a cup of coffee with someone you hardly know – opt for a quick 15-30 minute Zoom call. 

Finding the right opportunity can sometimes feel like an Olympic event. Don’t lose hope and know the right job is out there. You need to be your own biggest fan and persevere through the tough parts of your search. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your college’s career center or any of your professional connections and ask for help. Keep your head held high and remember that you’ve got this!