How Students Can Better Position Themselves in the Job Market

The following article was written by L.M. Sixel / Houston Chronicle

I recently shared job-search strategies with a group of business students at the University of Houston-Downtown.

Many of the 160 undergraduates who spent the day learning the ins and outs of retail management, entrepreneurship, accounting and finance, and other industries are first-generation college students. Most are working their way through school, and some juggle two jobs, says Léonie Karkoviata, a lecturer in economics and organizer of the event.

Many, she says, don’t have the networks to guide them through the pitfalls of launching a professional career.

So here are some of the universal strategies I discussed with the group, along with a few more I should have included. They can help those working their way through school and those fortunate enough to have mom and dad foot the bill.

Grades are important, but internships are key. Recruiters tell me they’d prefer a graduate with relevant internships on his or her resume than someone with high grades yet no relevant work experience.

I’ve suggested to my daughter that she find two semester-long internships and plan to graduate in five years rather than four years. It won’t cost any more — as long as those internships are paid positions — but it will strengthen her resume and network for when she has to find her first ”real’’ job.

Brush up on your presentation skills. Lots of graduates have good technical skills, but the ability to communicate will set you apart.

Many companies want employees who can make presentations to colleagues, managers and clients. They test those skills during the interviewing process by asking candidates to make a presentation on a project they’re working on at school.

Take advantage of public speaking seminars at your career services office, or join a group such as Toastmasters.

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