I remember, when I was at high school, the decisive question:”what studies do you want to do?”, this time you need and have to write down your selected studies and universities as wishes.
As many of the group, I was not really knowing where I was involving at that time. Taking some step back, we make first the choice on the studies, then on the job and then on the career. Here are my tips to be prepared and transition for each stage.
Search for inspiration rather than a job title
There is no ONE specific career path. You may have a defined idea of the job you want to achieve and finally change because you discover something else. Don’t search for a title, rather focus on the content, the working culture. If your values are not aligned with your job or environment it will not be a long term match.
I have met many students not able to answer the question “what are your values?” To know your values it is not necessary to have experience. Your values are built by your identity, how you have been educated, raised. It can be for example you are a competitor because you played a lot with your brothers/sisters and did not like failure. I know one of my values is resilience because I have been taught as immigrants we need to work more to be considered. Your values are the foundation of your motivations
Identify your key drivers
What did you like in each of your roles, internship or group studies? You may change your career but your main soft skills roughly still the same in different context. When you change or start a role, think about the soft skills you would like to develop further. Building a career should not be improvisation, defining your Key drivers will help to define your career strategy. Do not hesitate to use career assessment tools as support, there are plenty you can find on the internet.
Minimize the “Elegant effect” of a job content.
Imagine you are in a starred restaurant. The menu looks appealing and you opt for a “Mousseline de robe des champs”. The title only seems sophisticated. When your meal arrives, you find out it is simply smashed potatoes.
The same method is used to make a job appealing it is hence important to ask as much questions as possible in order to understand the reality of the content. Do not hesitate to ask how a typical day looks like, the percentage of tasks for each responsibility field and how the role will evolve. It will give you some visibility of what you will do on short term and mid term. You may ask all the questions you have during the interview process but above all, do not hesitate to reformulate what is presented to you, it will help to align for your clarification.
“Suggest” your personality
Personality makes the difference in a selection process, the difficult exercise is how to show it. My key learning from my experience, is that a candidate who brings concrete example of situation faced and what has been delivered will make a bigger impact than a person stating qualities without providing any examples.
It is not enough to mention to a recruiter that you are team focus or detail oriented, do you have examples that will state it? That is the reason why it is important to align on the STAR method to describe your case (Situation, task, action, results). If you apply on a job description, identify the soft skills required and try to think about what situation you experienced will illustrate these points. Soft skills are not only acquired through experience it can be also acquired through activities (sport etc…).
Don’t under-estimate yourself, everything is learning.
I heard a lot of young people, looking for a first job or an internship and not putting all experience they had on their resume because they do not think about it as a real experience.
Experience does not need to be acquired in a job, you learn from any situation and can apply your learning into a professional context. For students very limited on career experience, I would suggest the tip to include some student activities or even jobs and group studies you worked on and what skills you learnt from it.
Finally, the question to ask yourself on an interview is what impression you want to leave.
Talk, talk, talk!
Most importantly, your network will be your ally: if you have some career ideas but still lack of visibility identify people who might help you in your orientation. Linkedin is a powerful tool for this, do not hesitate to liaise and question people in the field you target, what are the key challenge on their job, what do they appreciate the most, how a typical day looks like.
If after this you experience a negative feedback after interviews, do not hesitate to ask your area of improvement, take it as a learning and remember that you will find other opportunities better aligned with your expectations.