Certain career fields such as law, medicine, engineering and sciences are almost impossible to get into without a degree. In many other career fields ranging from marketing to construction, having a degree can also put you at an advantage against other applicants – even if it’s not listed as a requirement on the job ad.
That said, a degree alone is not always enough to pursue one’s dream job. In fact, many other factors can be just as important.
If you’ve recently graduated, are currently studying or are thinking of taking a degree to improve your career prospects, it’s important that you also consider other important ingredients. Here are just a few other things that you can do to supplement your degree.
Get work experience
Having experience shows that you’re more familiar with the work environment, which could allow you to adjust more quickly. Not being able to get into your dream job because you don’t have experience can sometimes feel like a catch-22 situation – however there are ways of getting around this.
One way is to volunteer. Many companies are much more willing to take on volunteers because they don’t pose a financial risk – this can allow you to get into the workplace and try your hand at some of the basic day-to-day jobs. You could try volunteering somewhere one day a week or you could take a week off to volunteer somewhere. Prove yourself enough and some companies may even consider you for a paid role.
Another way to get experience is to freelance. This may not be possible in all careers – however certain jobs like writing, photography and programming are easy to pick up freelance work in (sites like Fiverr are great places to start). This will look good on your application as it will also show that you are confident and focused enough to work independently.
Know the right people
As the old saying goes, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. There is some truth in this – it’s easier to find opportunities by having a larger social circle. You may be able to meet people who work in your dream industry and are able to alert you of job vacancies before they even get advertised. In other cases, friends of people in the industry may be able to put in a kind word.
The best way to meet the right people is to socialise and tell as many people as you can of your career goals. You may be able to improve your chances of meeting people in your niche by attending specific events and hanging out in certain places. For example, if you’re eager to get into video game design, it could benefit you to attend gaming conventions, LAN parties and hackathons. If you’re trying to get into music production, it could be advantageous to hang out at gigs and attend music technology expos.
Take up related hobbies
Taking up hobbies related to your dream career could help to show that you’ve got a passion for that career field. If you’re trying to become an engineer, it could be beneficial to take up a craft hobby. Joining a debate club meanwhile could help when becoming a lawyer.
Giving evidence of unrelated hobbies can also sometimes be useful for giving your character more depth.
Start a blog
Writing a blog could be another great way to show your passion in a trade. Obviously, the blog should be related to that trade such as a fashion blog if you want to become a fashion designer or a health blog if you want to become a nutritionist. Blogging is obviously very important if you want to get into writing or journalism and could be a great platform for showing off your writing style.
Creating a blog is easy and free thanks to the likes of platforms such as WordPress and you don’t have to dedicate too much time to it if it’s simply to help your career – focus on quality rather than quantity.
Consider a master’s
In some cases, extra education can improve your career prospects. A master’s can help you to stand out against the swathes of people with regular degrees if you’re a recent graduate. You may be able to talk to staff at your college about taking a masters at the same university. There are also online masters courses offered by the likes of University of Nevada – Reno which you may be able to study around a part time job if you’re eager to also start making an income. A master’s should always be something that you are passionate about as this will help motivate you to study.
Work on your personal skills
Not being able to demonstrate the write personal skills could also stop you from getting your dream job in spite of having a degree. Most jobs require good communication skills, timekeeping and a certain level of enthusiasm. The interview process can test all of these and you may have to do some personal development if you think this a problem.
Sometimes it can just be the nerves of the interview that can affect these skills – in which case you may want to practice your interviewing skills. Alternatively, you could consider speaking coaching for developing communication skills if you stutter or talk too much, or you could get into a habit of setting alarms on your phone to help improve time-keeping skills if you regularly run late to interviews.
Look the part
Physical appearance shouldn’t matter in most jobs, but it does. First impressions make a big impact and you need to be certain that you’re dressed the part and that you’ve made an effort with your general appearance such as tidying your hair or shaving your stubble. This should only affect you if you’re accepted for an interview, unless the application requires you to upload a photo.