The biggest obstacle to fresh graduates has always been the fact that all the good jobs require a seemingly unattainable number of years in work experience.
How can you jump this hurdle?
Doing internships and volunteering for any NGO or organizations that will take you is fine, but what if internships and volunteering opportunities are not forthcoming?
You can create a highly focused portfolio for yourself, and design it to get you a job placement in the exact industry and department that you would like to work in.
If you’re interested in Public Relations, you can create a great social media presence and build a blog to develop your communication skills.
If you’re an engineer, you can play around with your mother’s old radio and see if you can upcycle it into something new.
You can create an app, or redecorate your big sister’s house, or offer to design logos for your best friend’s business. You can even take a free online course in any field you like.
The possibilities are endless!
Think of them as passion projects or experimental businesses. For best results, choose something that you already love and can see yourself making a career out of, and make sure it’s a low risk environment where failure will not cost you much.
Setting it up this way will unleash your creativity because you’ve eliminated the pressure to succeed and opened yourself up to a world where your ideas are all valid and worthy of pursuit.
Try new methods, improve on the old, challenge the norm and record all your results – failures and successes alike. Before long, you’ll notice an improvement in both your knowledge and confidence.
Including all of these self taught skills in your CV will automatically make you stand out from the crowd of inexperienced peers applying for the same job. If you do it right, you might even come across as better qualified than people with working experience!
The fact that you’re able to take a project from the initial stages of idea generation to execution will speak volumes in your favor. It will demonstrate that you’re disciplined and able to work without supervision.
Talking about all the mistakes or problems you encountered and how you dealt with them successfully will validate your problem solving skills.
You can even record the quantifiable outcomes like amount of time taken to complete a given project, number of social media followers gained, or new clients you’ve picked up along the way as a result of positive recommendations from your friends and family.
Having a valuable point of difference in your CV will naturally encourage your prospective employers to focus on that when they interview you and since you’ll be talking about a subject that you’re already passionate and knowledgeable about, you’ll avoid all the awkwardness and uncertainty that comes with trying to guess which answers your interviewers want to hear.
Aside from steering your career path and giving you an added advantage during job interviews, passion projects also put you in a position to develop a different perspective or discover a new idea.
Who knows, you could become the next great inventor!