A Quick Lesson on Being Career Ready

Lisa Nielsen
Career Entrepreneur

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As a self-described expert on college and career readiness, I know what I am talking about when I say there is a need to get students today ready for their next steps into careers. I have written two books in a series on this called The Book on Career Readiness and created workshops and seminars on these topics in either 1 hour or 6+ hour formats.

One of the best ways to get some career readiness under your belt is to intern as much as possible. Either paid (preferable) or unpaid can be just the ticket to build out that resume and to be considered a potential full time hire for after graduation. Particularly for the students I serve in the tri-state area, there is a whole economic world right next door to us in terms of NYC, Hoboken and/or beyond. There are jobs and paths for anyone IF they were just willing to jump and try. There are also programs, such as the SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) that I am involved with in giving training on College and Career Readiness (over 24 hours of workshop training executed both in person and online in my learning center www.thenextstep1234.moonami.com).

What I have found in my classrooms though are usually students who get stuck in their ruts or focused on their local employment. And I get it - it is hard to balance commuting and working plus classwork and you know, social life. All of this is important but I encourage my students to take their summers and balance in some work experience in a corporate setting. It is somewhat "saver" to intern than to be out there looking for full time employment.

As an intern, you can be a little green and unsure - it is almost expected that you will be unsure and/or nervous because you are still a college student. It is also a time to shine; you can stand apart from the competition and maybe wind up with a true job offer OR with enough experience and contacts to make that job offer that much easier to obtain.

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At some of my events representing my company, The Next Step, I meet students who are interning and taking advantage of the corporate options located a short, scenic ferry ride away. My advice to everyone is to do the following:

  • Have an awesome resume: What does this mean? It means having a resume that represents all that is best about you - your skills, your abilities and your special talents. You can use your resume to stand out by having a professional email address (either your school one or a gmail account made up of just your first and last name and if need be a middle initial). Create a high level summary section or learn with me how to do this at my recent teleseminar here http://events.instantteleseminar.com/?eventid=84279099.
  • Reach out to your contacts: Identify who your contacts are - who is your network? Think about your parents' friends and your friends' parents. Do not be ashamed to ask for internship opportunities or recommendations for interviews and/or companies that need help. If you can be flexible, offer your services as an intern without pay - talk to your school about getting credit for your internship. If you want to be paid then try to hold out for paid internships. Be clear about what you are interested in by knowing what you want to learn - or at least having an idea. Think about what rocks on your resume and where you would like to wind up in your career and then try to get opportunities in that field/industry.
  • Craft your elevator value pitch: When reaching out to your contacts and attending events in industry and/or networking events, know how to be personable and how to share who you are and what you are good at by being present and engaging while weaving your story, your pitch of who you are and what you can do. Also be a great listener and when someone gives you their business card and tells you to keep in touch, do it. Actually take the card and send a follow up email including something about your meeting and maybe sending an article that might interest them or something to make yourself stand out.

Let me know what you think about my quick advice and how you can start your internship path now to be career ready! Happy Hunting!

Learn more about teaching careers and becoming a teacher.