As an international student, getting started in a professional world scares me the most. Besides having to speak professionally in the language that isn’t my first, I often feel insecure about how can I make myself stood up to companies. As a junior, I am starting to really prepare for my professional future and I want to share my tips on getting started early in preparing for your professional career!
Consider doing an internship in the summer. I did my first internship before I came to the U and I did another internship after I finished my freshman year. Some of you might think, why start so early and why would I put myself through the hassle of being an intern instead of enjoying my break? First of all, it’s never too early to start! Think about this, the earlier you get exposed to the working-environment, the more time you have for more experiences or even explore other career possibilities for your major. And being an intern can be really fun. For me, applying what I’ve learned in college or even doing something that I haven’t been taught before is really exciting! It’s like solving a real-life problem and it makes me feel like being all of those studying did not go to waste.
I highly recommend taking a Career & Internship Prep course. On my sophomore year, I took CFAN 3201 (Career & Internship Prep course specific for CFANS students). I learned so many things and I’ve been recommending this course to all of my friends. From carefully choosing the correct word for your resume, practicing a professional handshake (I was pretty amused when I learned that even handshake matters), to setting up your LinkedIn profile. One of the best experience I’ve had was having to connect with a professional in the same field as me. If I hadn’t taken this course, I would never have spoken to a real professional to talk about the career possibilities of my major.
Go to career fairs! It doesn’t matter if you’re still a freshman or a sophomore, just go out there to practice so you have more experience in talking with recruiters and with career fairs in general. Moreover, you’ll have the chance to get to know more companies in your field any more time to get to know the companies that you’re interested in! And you’ll gain more connections!
Utilize the resources that the U provides such as the Career & Internship Services (CIS). Each college usually has their own CIS, which is a good thing since the advices that they give are more tailored towards your major! The services that they provide include: mock-up interviews, resume & cover letter reviews, or you can talk about anything related to your career/major! CIS has helped me discover my career possibilities and connecting with alumni.
Lastly, don’t ever think that you’re too early to start getting hands-on with your future! Starting early is always a good thing and it will give you more time to practice. And don’t ever be afraid to reach out to people. Connecting to people widens your network and opening more opportunities for you!