POV: You’re being asked to write an essay about a time you demonstrated leadership.
Or, even worse, they’re asking you to upload a… what? Resume? A one-page showcase of your experiences? Uh, that’s never come up before!
Don’t worry – I thought the exact same thing not even two years ago. I had never been asked to describe my accomplishments in such a capacity.
But what made it more difficult is that I had no record of said accomplishments. Sure, teachers advised us to keep track of our community service activities and other work, but how was I supposed to do that when I had so much else going on?
Let me tell you that it is in fact possible to prepare for the future while you work on the present. And I’m here to share a few tips for doing that – things I wish I would have done before college!
- Write it down while it’s fresh – Set aside time after you’re done working on something to reflect. What were the key outcomes? Did you use a specific set of skills? What did you learn?
- Stay organized – Have a centralized place where you keep record of your relevant experiences. For example, maybe dedicate a notebook to a specific job or have a running Google Doc. Either way, you should know where to locate these items when you need them.
- Use your resources, even if you don’t have access to them yet – Get in touch with your college or university’s career services office and find out what they offer. Determine whether you’ll need an internship for your program and start browsing.
- Gather a list of references before you’re asked for them – When you’re in the early stages of your career, most of your references may be high school teachers or advisors. Start asking them early if they’re okay with being listed as a reference for applications. Keep in mind, though, that these references may become less relevant later in your career, so continue to make connections as you go along!
- Look ahead – Figure out what it is you want post-grad and then start shooting for that. Examine job descriptions and find transferable skills. How can you show that you’re already building the skills your dream company needs?
Again, I know that focusing on a million things at once is hard but trust me when I say that you will not regret being prepared.
Written by Carly Webster, Career and Learning Fall 2023 Music Forward Intern