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Taking Hold of Your Future - Student Edition

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How can students prepare for their career well in advance? How can students make it significantly more likely they get a job after graduation? We have a plan for you!

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Taking Hold of Your Future - Student Edition

  1. 1. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Taking Hold of Your Future Student Edition Using independent learning, freelance experience, and advance career prep to ensure YOU get a great job upon graduation
  2. 2. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Students very rarely think about their resume until they near graduation and are ready to start applying for jobs. By that point, their resume really isn't overly impressive. Having looked at hundreds of college resumes, I've generally been underwhelmed 99% of the time. The truth is, they all look very similar and often the only three differentiating points are their university's prestige, GPA, and perhaps an internship. The problem with these factors from a hiring manager perspective: I. Introducing Students to Careers Early – So they can be the best!  University prestige is a bit overrated in distinguishing talent. Just because someone worked hard to get into a school as a teenager and paid large tuition amounts doesn't make them workforce ready.  GPA signals an over-reliance on studying versus other important factors like skill development, social development, critical thinking, and communication skills. For me, I see GPA as a barometer of how hard you work on a single element of your life. As long as GPA is in an acceptable range, it's good enough  Internships are very difficult to evaluate. Usually only lasting 10-12 weeks over the summer, it is simply not enough time for interns to get meaningful experience or determine performance. As an employer, it's hard to tell if you just job shadowed and got coffee or did something relevant. When virtually every candidate has an internship of some type, there's not much that can be deciphered from a few lines of text
  3. 3. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Comparing a graduating student's resume to an experienced hire resume is like night and day. Some of the things an experienced hire will have that is extremely rare for a student to have in their resume: Continued…  Performance standards. In an experienced hire's previous work, they are bound to have had meaningful accomplishments like reducing costs, making processes more efficient, generating revenue, hitting service standards, delivering project outcomes, and much more. Their career longevity and role makes it far more likely than a student to have outcomes like this.  Diversity of work. As mentioned before, students often only have one job and even in reading the descriptive lines on their resume, it's difficult to understand what they truly did. Experienced hires have often done numerous roles where a job description is more easily stated.  Career growth. An experienced hire will have been working long enough to see a pattern in their career. Did they stall at a single position, title, or role or did they get promoted, increase responsibilities, and show clear career direction? A student has such limited time and opportunity to tell a cohesive story about their development.  Skills. The skills portion of a student's resume very often looked the same. Microsoft Office. Maybe a few Adobe programs. Perhaps intermediate language proficiency. Often a reference to communication skills. Maybe a few other lines specific to their major. That's about it. These skills should be the bare minimum of anyone in the workforce. Compared to experienced hires, it's just not very attractive. Experienced hires not only have more quantity but often have more description of their skills (proficiency level, how it was used, performance metrics, etc).
  4. 4. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC None of this should be too shocking. Students are young and inexperienced with more focus on knowledge/academics than employable skills. No fault should be given to the 99% of student resumes I've seen. However, for a student reading this, the next logical question I'd ask is… How can I be in the 1% of standouts? And using today’s statistics… How can I avoid being one of the 50% of students only able to get a low-skill job after graduation? To be honest, it's not too difficult... Continued…
  5. 5. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC II. Becoming the Best Job Applicant Upon Graduation This is where we want to differentiate ourselves from everyone else giving you education and career advice. There are plentyof outstanding sources, however, very rarely are people close enough to the actual hiring companies and jobs themselves to advise onqualifications and how to boost them. Follow your passion, complete your education, and apply to jobs is no longer good enough advice. The world has changed and you need to adapt to these changes by building top qualifications, skills, and experience. We are here to help with a specific pathway to get these better than all your peers. The way that we’re going to advise is using a three-tiered approach: 1. Finish your education 2. Build differentiating skills on top of formal education 3. Freelance to build tons of experience The rest of this guide is here to help with a detailed plan and all the resources you need to accomplish this and be the topqualified applicant by the time you graduate.
  6. 6. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC III. Skill-Building and Freelancing? Getting a formal education is great. It’s such an amazing opportunity to build an education, go out on your own, build important social skills, and so much more. However, it isn’t like the old days where being college educated guaranteed a good job. The economy and employer requirements have changed and it’s your responsibility to get the most out of your formal education while also becoming job ready in your4 years. It’s a lot of pressure but rest assured, it’s not that difficult to manage with the right help. The easiest way is to learn independently and then to freelance. If you aren't familiar with Upwork.com, I'd highly advise you to take a comprehensive look. What you'll find is a marketplace of short and medium term jobs where freelancers can bid on jobs of alldifferent types and responsibilities. It's very similar to applying for a job - simply look for the type of work you want and submit a bid to open jobs (including a resume/cover letter, rate proposal, qualifications/portfolio, and proposal specific to the job). You then can work at either a fixed fee for the project or an hourly rate. Once the job concludes, you leave mutual reviews for each other (which helps, as you have a feedback mechanism for future work). Your college major and course work will enrich your knowledge of the world. You’ll graduate with a degree, which will prove to employers that you can handle completing coursework and that you have an intermediate level grasp of whatever subjects your degree is in. However, as we mentioned earlier, you’ll still be light on practical experience, proof of performance, and the ability to craft a competitive resume. We want you to differentiate yourself and become the best applicant your future recruiters have seen. We want you to be competitive with experienced hires. So how can you add to your degree and accomplish this goal?
  7. 7. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Continued… Obviously a lot of jobs require specific expertise and might not be appropriate for students. However, so many job types are simple enough for entry level skills: • Research • Data entry • Marketing (emails, social media updates, etc) • Writing and editing articles, blogs, books, etc • Virtual assistant (help people with scheduling, travel, bookkeeping, and other administrative tasks) • Presentation building • Sales: lead generation, cold-calling, etc For those with a bit more skill: • Technical help (website development or support, programming, etc) • Design (business logos, web design, graphics, etc) • Financial help (maintaining budget projections, financial forecasting, etc) • Advanced marketing (search engine optimization, analytics, etc) • Content creation (companies hiring subject matter experts to create new content on their behalf for customers, audience, etc) • Education (tutoring services, course creation, etc)
  8. 8. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Continued… I could list things all day but it’s probably better for you to check out listings. Now what benefit does this have to the student? First, it’s a great way to make money. We talk about this in our article Rethinking the College Job: You Can Eclipse the Efficient Pizza Delivery - link Second, imagine what your resume would look like after 4 years of learning and freelancing! Compared to the generic, inexperienced, common resume we typically see from students, you could make yourself look like someone with 10 years of experience simply through some side freelance time in college. Imagine being able to tell future employers • All the companies you worked for • All the projects you completed • And attach a copy of all your glowing reviews If you do it right, you will be the best candidate they see all year. So let’s put together a sample plan for you to accomplish just this!
  9. 9. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC IV. Our Plan For You! Each school year has a goal… - What you want to achieve academically? - What you want to achieve through skill learning? - What you want to achieve in terms of experience? Learning Plan Freelance Plan Goals The learning plan is a suggestion of:  What topics/skills are beneficial in today’s working world?  What topics/skills does the typical college major not necessarily cover as well as online courses do?  What are things we suggest for each year of college based on where we think you’ll be at? The freelance plan is a suggestion of:  What would look great on a resume when you graduate (experience that nobody else will have coming out of college)?  What are easy freelance jobs for a college student to get?  What are easy skills to learn (hint, they’ll be part of your learning plan)? You can mix and match based on whatever you think is best… this is just a suggestion!
  10. 10. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Freshman Year  Begin developing skills you can use to advance your freelancing capabilities (and later full-time job skills)  Establish a top rating on Upwork  Ignore rates for now. Consider this an investment of your time  Bulk up your resume from nothing to something that can get you freelance jobs with more ease Learning Plan Freelance Plan Goals  Basic Computer Science: The idea here is not to learn a specific programming language just yet. We think you should become diverse in your technical knowledge to begin with. You should have a solid foundation in databases, networks, data mining, and understanding of the tech industry. We make this easy for you with our curriculum of courses at Reverse Tide Computer Science – link Feel free to use some your university elective courses to learn as well!  Become experts at Excel and Powerpoint: Chances are you will need to become proficient for your university studies anyway so this should be pretty simple. We want you to go above and beyond, however. With excel, learn all about pivot tables, data analysis capabilities, creating detailed charts, and more. With Powerpoint, you need to start making professional looking presentations. We provide recommendations for how to do this at Reverse Tide Office Software - link  Research: Become familiar with what companies need more information on and how best to present it to them. Observe what they do with this information and how they turn it into a profitable enterprise.  Marketing: Even if you’re simply pasting links to a business Twitter feed, start establishing how a company creates awareness, generates leads, and converts interested parties into customers. Try to get a regular gig rather than just a short-term project if possible NOTE: These are easy jobs and should be worthy of 5 star reviews. You can make a personal decision on what rate you will accept but understand you may be competing for jobs with people in India and the Philippines proposing $3-5/hour. Even if you have to go lower than you traditionally find acceptable, consider this in a similar way as people accept unpaid internships. You are doing this for personal growth/learning, real-world experience, and to build your credentials (and reviews are important on Upwork for future jobs). It’s an investment and not a job. Again, completely your decision but our Freelancing Plan assumes you are aiming for education and resume building goals
  11. 11. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Sophomore Year  Begin to specialize. It’s time to start thinking what industry interests you most (your major) and what skills you will acquire. We suggest a few technology routes below that would be useful to pair with an industry major like health care, engineering, or business.  Continuing to build your credentials on Upwork. You want people that can put in writing how great you are… find projects and employers that will help you accomplish that goal. Learning Plan Freelance Plan Goals  Expand your technical skills. This year should be dedicated to learning more in-depth technology. It is unavoidable in today’s economy and combined with your practical experience, will look tremendous on a resume. We suggest choosing among a few: Programming – There is so much need for this in any industry and any company and it pays very well. Our curriculum - link Data & Analytics – Another excellent choice, as being able to mine and manipulate data is extremely important no matter what your major. Our curriculum – link Networks – Learning the skills necessary to become a network administrator are really topical, as networking technologies continue to expand. You’ll be vital in virtually any industry and can consider careers in development, cyber security, and more. Our curriculum - link  Get a technical job but try to find something easier. For example, help someone with Excel spreadsheet creation or help a business find the right software for their needs. You want to pair this with the technical skills curriculum you choose in your learning plan  Think about expanding to some other easier jobs. Perhaps more challenging marketing jobs or trying a copyrighting gig (just a few suggestions). While we recommend taking the next step up, still stay at basic levels for now as you want to keep establishing your profile, reviews, and diversifying your resume. We also believe skill development is more important in your early college years, as there is still ample time for more complicated projects over the next two years
  12. 12. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Junior Year  Complex projects: Aim for projects with a complexity level on par with the jobs you’ll apply to as a graduate. Your peers will likely start applying to big, well-known companies for internships. While that is certainly worthwhile during your summer, we’d guess the learning you’ll achieve freelancing is greater than you’ll get in a 10 week summer internship program. However, the positives of an internship are being able to practice interviewing, getting some brand name recognition on your resume, and experience in industry. Your choice! Learning Plan Freelance Plan Goals  Focus your time: As we mentioned, we’d spend less time studying and more time focusing on freelancing gigs and the outcomes you want later on. You should be experienced enough in both your studies and freelancing that you know where skills gaps exist and need more learning time.  Make a decision about your future: One other option is a do-over in whatever you chose for specialization. You’re still plenty young and have tons of time to learn. If you’re not enjoying the skills you learned or the major you chose, change it. If the jobs you’re doing aren’t satisfying, change direction. Remember that the path we’re proposing is a sample one and not something to be beholden to. The ultimate aim of freelancing and teaching yourself new skills is to stand out in your search for a great career. Stay true to that goal!  Build real experience: Whichever topic you learned during your sophomore year should be the focus of your freelancing. Spend less time on courses and more time learning through experience. The story you will eventually want to tell on your resume and during interviews: • You self-taught yourself a skill at the same time you gained industry knowledge through school • You applied that in real-world jobs • You got tremendous reviews on each project you did (which you can print out and show employers). Start being very picky about what jobs you accept. It should be purely for resume building purposes, skill refinement, and perhaps some better fees. Make sure you are capable but also challenge yourself. If you get jobs complex enough, you’ll stand far above the generic responsibilities of your peers during their internships
  13. 13. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC Senior Year  Make decisions. This is where you are now mature enough to decide what comes after college. You should have progressed pretty well in a skill, an industry, or doing certain types of jobs. Do you want to continue that path? If not, no big deal. Learn new skills and reinforce that on your resume through freelancing.  It’s time to polish your resume. It shouldn’t be an exercise in creation, as you should have been adding to it as you go along with each freelancing gig. However, it’s time to get it into final stages. Learning Plan Freelance Plan Goals  Communication skills: Naturally in dealing with your own clients, you will have developed sales, customer service, and presentation skills. Now you’re ready for the major leagues. Consider really taking charge of your presentation and writing skills. Technical proficiency is great but the most successful among us are great at being able to communicate technical ideas. Practice interviewing even when you’re not interested in the job. Really start networking with people in industry. Consider some courses to bolster your skills. This is a skill you never want to stop improving in…. now is the time to start these habits.  Improve as necessary: As you survey your career options, you might need to bolster certain skills or learn something new to further set yourself up for success. We are always here to help and have an already impressive roster of subject curriculums. It will continue to grow as content emerges in other subjects! Bookmark our site Reverse Tide and continue to help us grow.  The perfect experience: Consistent with whatever career you’re most interested in, you’ll want to take stock of your resume and see if you have directly applicable experience. Having diverse and technical experience is great. However, you want to look your interviewer in the eye and confidently say you’ve done that job before and done it successfully. It’s all about quality and less about quantity now. Figure out what you want and get yourself the qualifications to get there!
  14. 14. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC V. Conclusion • It’s never too early to think about your resume. Try to guarantee you’ll get a job when you graduate by having the best qualifications, experiences, and business-ready skills • Reverse Tide’s plan is there to fulfill everything you need… a great education, relevant skills, and experience. It’s the trifecta of what hirers want! • You can mix and match whatever skills and experience you want but this should get you thinking like a professional • Reverse Tide is here to help every step… 1) We have curriculums that will help you learn all the technical and professional skills you want, with the top learning sources and ways to learn - link 2) We have an entire microsite dedicated to freelancing with all the resources to help you find and secure the top jobs and succeed in each freelance engagement - link 3) When you’re ready to write a resume, we have tons of resources to make sure you write it with impact, get noticed, and have everything an employer is looking for
  15. 15. © 2015 Reverse Tide LLC A collection of freelance resources and courses on how to get great jobs and build a freelance business Building and then writing top qualifications in 32 subjects (business skills, tech skills, industries) Perspective, advice, and resources to enhance your learning and career - Full-time job best practices - Resume and career consultations - Entrepreneurship ideas - Predicting & preparing for the future of work