We are keen to train our student researchers to be prepared to walk into a position after graduation. From day one, we ask our students to be looking at job ads and understanding how their classes prepare them for those real world positions. If there are gaps in their expertise, then we point them to ways to develop further.
It is a great idea to start with the industry leaders. In cultural and technical terms, it is hard to beat Google. Their hiring practices are innovative and more transparent than usually seen on large corporate recruiting sites.
I particularly like their technical development guide. For young people working through a degree, it’s difficult to know what skills are needed for a technical job. It is especially difficult if you are working through a multidisciplinary program like ours. In most cases, you are trying to hit several moving targets at once. The technical guide allows you to chart your development and fill in gaps in your learning. However, Google’s technical development guide is just one of these moving targets. After all, a single degree program simply cannot account for the breadth of technical skills needed in jobs like data science, design, marketing and communications, and software and web development. Once you’ve seen the range of options and positions available to you, you can choose to specialize in the area that you love. Do the thing you care about. Learn more about what makes you excited! Use Lynda or other services to hone and refine your skills. Never stop learning.
We use entry positions as a template for the kind of graduates we want our students to be. There are many job sites that we encourage our students to look at as they study. It is important for students to model their development on the jobs they want to one day take up. Here is a list of job sites based on industry:
Stack Overflow has a great resource page to see behind the scenes of a developer recruitment process. For general job searches, typing “digital” into indeed.com can be surprisingly enlightening. If you want to have a company work for you, Hired is gaining a reputation as a great service for finding positions in technical and creative fields.
Beyond all this, we also encourage students to work on their public professional profile from day one. Start a professional site to host a blog or a portfolio of your work. Complete your LinkedIn. Make sure your personal social media does not conflict with your professional social media. Google yourself and be sure your online persona is professional. Choose the right social platform for your career. Twitter might allow you to connect with people in your field better than LinkedIn. Maybe Pinterest is where all the creative-types live. Connect with them. Read what they read. Follow who they follow.
It is a tough proposition to plan a perfect line of flight from your first year in college to a career. We are confident that our students are being prepared for the unexpected turns that an early career can take. Their education is robust and resilient enough that it will last. The liberal arts, now supercharged with technical training, has long been the best gateway to a rewarding career/life.