There are a few key things that stand out to me for a student or early professional that is about to kick off their career:
This aspect was particularly daunting for me when I was in college as I am definitely on the shy side! Over time, however, I've learned how important networking is, and moreover, how it can be turned into a very enjoyable exercise if you participate in the right places.
In the technology community for example, I would recommend attending a local hackathon, which offers a great opportunity to meet other students & professionals, all while working together on a project that you can showcase to employers as part of your portfolio (more on that in the 2nd section).
If you currently attend college, I would also recommend participating in a professional development group/club on campus (I was personally part of SHPE). If you're out of college, I would look into other professional development groups (I'm currently part of Toastmasters & Techqueria) which allows you to stay in touch with other professionals who share similar interests all while developing your own skillset and/or network.
In essence, start making connections when you don't need them! You never know who you'll meet or interact with that may translate into a career opportunity in the future.
If you're a student/early professional, you may not necessarily have the relevant work experience that you can showcase on a resume, which means that you have to highlight your skillset in a different manner.
My suggestion would be to create a portfolio of your projects that you can easily share with potential employers. For example, you can upload your projects/code to Github, which will allow you to host and share the projects with employers so they can see your work!
We've all seen the job postings for Entry-Level positions that somehow want multiple years of experience. Having a portfolio of side projects is a great way to prove your skills to potential employers in a very tangible way, even if you have minimal work experience at the time.
Steven recommends the following next steps:
- Get involved! Locate local events, clubs, etc. that you can participate in to meet students/professionals in your desired field to build a network of contacts.
- Build stuff! Having side projects that you can showcase to employers is a great way to prove that you have the tangible skills to do the job.