Graduates, Break Free!

Disclaimer: this entry was made as a dry-run submission for a non-profit work , so don’t be surprised to read this somewhere else 🙂

By the end of this month, hundreds of thousand have already acquired their college diploma. In a country where one’s worth is often measured by his educational attainment, this is one of the most anticipated milestones in your life by your parents.

But what’s the next step? Whether or not you graduate with honors, people expect their you to get a decent job asap.

So let us be realistic: welcome to the world of unemployed and misemployed. Most of you are fresh graduates with no work experience. You’re lucky to find work in less than 3 months time and luckier if you’re able to find a career in your field of study.

In my own observation, most of my colleagues either settle for the first job they pass the process or apply to various companies until they find a job. In the end, they go with titles from Associate Software Engineer to Technical Support Representative.

And there are those who are having a hard time getting their first job. Top factors affecting this include (a) poor communication skills, (b) poor foundation/knowledge of the basics, or (c) passing up the opportunities because they are being picky, eventually left with no other choice.

So in a world with millions of unemployed and misemployed, what can you do to stand out? Here are some things I learned over the years:

  1. Decide on your career path. Do want to be a developer, a designer, an analyst or a tester? Will it be for desktop apps, for web, for gaming, or for mobile?
  2. Assess which skills you already have and grade your proficiency.
  3. Check the latest job postings and see if your career path and your skills are still in demand.
  4. Find what you like? Take note of the skills requirements and try to learn them one by one (if there is more than one). If you already have the basics, time to learn the advanced topics.
  5. Stuck with a problem? Ask google. Read books or documentation. Research first before you ask other people. It’s more satisfying to solve the problem by yourself.
  6. Join an IT community. For example, I’m a part of WebGeek Philippines. You get to ask pros and make new friends!
  7. The best way to apply what you learn is to do pro bono work utilizing that skill. (You get to gain experience + additional entry to your portfolio.)
  8. Make a portfolio to showcase the projects you did in school as well as the applications/websites/designs you have developed on your free time (or for a client, if you have one). This will serve as your proof for your skills set and proficiency.
  9. Join free seminars/events/workshops. Learn and make friends too! Companies like Accenture, Microsoft Philippines, Nokia Philippines, Oracle, etc. conducts one regularly. (Just follow their fan pages on Facebook so you can be on the loop.)
  10. Apply for an internship! Internship or on-the-job trainings doesn’t need to be just another school requirement. Some companies take in interns and offer them a job offer. Try your luck, learn for free, and even earn some money while you’re at it.

You can do this even as a student or a professional. This will either lead you to do freelance work or get a corporate job. Either way, you learn and get a job.

Do you have any other tips? Share with us. 🙂

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