Five ways to get career-ready while studying at Centennial
As students in Centennial College, most of us have one mutual goal – get a full-time job in Toronto upon graduating. To ease our way to the door of employment, we need what they call "work experience" – the precious thing that sets us apart from a pile of resumes.
So, how can we work in our field while studying? The short answer is to be proactive! The long answer is …
Get a part-time job in your field
Lots of students view part-time jobs simply as a means to earn money. But why not get a job that allows you to gain both money and work experience related to your field?
When applying for a position, ask yourself: "Can I put this job on my resume?" If the answer is:
- Yes – Go for it! Try your best to secure that job.
- No – Perhaps you can work there temporarily, but continue to keep your eyes peeled for a career-related position.
While it might be easier to land a job in restaurants or retail, you probably don’t want to be like many other students – you want to stand out! College life goes by fast, so try to accumulate as much professional experience as you can before you graduate. Don’t forget to visit HireCentennial to explore career-relevant job postings, and much more.
If you don’t have enough experience to get paid for what you want to do, why don’t you do it for free? But isn’t that what internships are for, you might be asking? Internships are often available after you graduate, and can be quite competitive. When you volunteer, you can gain experience while you are still in school. You’ll notice that many of your classmates may not be actively volunteering while studying. That’s how you can take advantage and stand out!
In addition, you will meet interesting people in your industry when you volunteer and rapidly build your professional network of contacts. It’s also a good opportunity to showcase your skills and your potential, and the fact that you are doing it for free makes your work all the more appreciated!
Some great sources to seek volunteer opportunities are Volunteer Toronto and, of course, Centennial College. Centennial offers many ways to volunteer and engage with the community, including the Centennial International Student Ambassador (CISA) program. Be sure to follow the college’s Facebook and Twitter pages to keep yourself posted.
If you lack experience and find it difficult to get a volunteer position that is aligned with your career, why don’t you employ yourself? In other words, create your own thing! For example, if you are a Culinary Arts student, how cool would it be to launch a food recipe website? Even if you fail, you will have learned lessons that no one can teach you – and that, my friend, is experience. Knowing what not to do is a huge step towards figuring out what should be done.
Successful or not, you can show off what you’ve done and the experience you’ve gained on your resume, and potential employers will be wowed by your entrepreneurial initiative. Do you know the 90/10/1 rule on social media? 90% of people consume content, 10% engage with content, and 1% create it. Be in that 1% to stand out!
Participating in a competition is a great way to put your talents on display and show just how good you are. Even if you don’t win a prize, simply making it through to the second round, or finishing in the top 10%, and competing against the very best, is still impressive and can get you noticed.
And don’t worry, Centennial College has got your back! You will definitely receive lots of support from your professors. If you want to participate in a competition abroad, you can also contact the International Education, Services and Global Experience (SaGE) team at Centennial to submit your proposal for funding!
Become a freelancer
Freelancing is a good option if you already have some work experience and you’ve built a networks of contacts. Since most freelancers’ first projects come from referrals, it’s hard for clients to hire you if you have never done similar projects before. However, if you have done at least one of the four things above, chances are you have solid experience and know some people who could use your expertise. If you are confident with your experience and abilities, consider joining LinkedIn groups or online freelance communities like Upwork or Freelancer.
In conclusion, there are many paths to gaining experience and getting yourself ready for your career, no matter how inexperienced you are. It just depends on how much effort you are willing to invest in your future. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and along your way, Centennial College is always there to help!
By Jack Tran