Do you want to start your own business, and enjoy the freedom of being self-employed? Find a job, and trade your time for a steady paycheck? Go abroad, and see the world? No matter which you want do do, there are a few things you should take care of, first.
Prepare Your CV
If you want to “be your own boss,” you can skip this step, but for everyone else, pulling together a CV will be mandatory. You’ll also need cover letters for the positions or programs you intend to apply to.
In case you’re unfamiliar, a CV is not like a resume. When you send out a resume to a job opening or an internship, it’s generally one page, and tweaked to the needs of that position. A resume shows your relevant experience. On the other hand, a CV shows everything. CVs are usually multiple pages, listing all your job/work history, your educational background, publications & awards, and anything else that might impress a prospective employer.
For applying to only a few places, you’ll probably write a new cover letter to each one. But in a competitive market, you can save yourself a lot of time by writing a “generic” cover letter for a category of positions. When you apply to each one, edit & customize the letter to that particular firm.
Apply to Internships
Hopefully, you already did some internships during school. They’re a great way to build up some useful experience, and demonstrate to future employers that you know your stuff. After all, your friends may know who you are and what you can do, but an employer only knows what’s on the paper in front of them.
Applying to internships is very similar to applying to jobs. The only difference is often that internships don’t pay, and have you doing lower-skilled work as you “learn the ropes.”
Register with Agencies & Job Sites
Sometimes it may be possible to find a job through people you know. In fact, that’s usually the best option- — if it’s available to you. Otherwise, even if you’ve decided to “beat the rat race” and be a freelance graphic designer or similar, you’ll need a source of job opportunities to which you can apply. That’s where a placement agency or job site comes in.
Placement agencies will do their own networking to pull together a list of openings, plus whatever is on the public boards. Job sites, on the other hand, try to list as many openings for you in one place as they can. Many also allow you to post your CV so employers can find you. Some sites, like Elance, will allow you to work directly, from home or wherever you happen to be, which can be a boon to freelancers and the self-employed.
If you’re a fan of the American TV series Mad Men, you know that “philanthropy is the gateway to power.” For that reason alone, your more ambitious peers are making volunteering a cornerstone of their strategy to achieve their own goals.
Besides a good “line on the resume,” however, volunteering also provides a way to get out and help people. In the process, you’ll meet people, build relationships, and develop a sense of cultural understanding it would be nearly impossible to get any other way.
Special considerations for going abroad
You can work, intern, and volunteer abroad, too. You’ll not only gain some all-important experience, you’ll come back with some great stories and a wiser way of looking at the world.
Applying to positions abroad means you need all of the paperwork you would for a domestic position. If the language in your target country isn’t the same as in your home country, you’ll likely need translated copies of everything. This includes diplomas, letters of motivation, etc. Professional translation online is the fastest and easiest way to acquire what you need in this regard.
The direction you want to go is in your hands. Whether you work, intern, volunteer, or do it abroad, you’ll expose yourself to rich new experiences that open up opportunities and reveal new ways of thinking about the world. The most important part of this process is to get started, so don’t delay. Gather your paperwork, arrange for translation if necessary, and get to work.
Alex Pejak is a 26-year-old economics graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Finance and Banking, currently working on a project for Simple Translation. She also loves to travel and later blog about her experiences.
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