Kemp Edmonds, Sales Engineer and overall awesome guy who works at Hootsuite (@HootKemp), graced us BCIT students with his presence and delivered an insightful presentation full of tips for clueless students.
It was great to hear from a fellow BCIT graduate who achieved professional success so soon after his graduation. But more importantly, he told us how he did it. His insider tips were so useful that I decided to interview him myself to get some concrete, actionable tips all students can use to get that dream job after graduation (or at least get closer to it).
1. Use the ‘student’ status to network and get to know professionals
Being a student in the eyes of a working professional means that you have the “I’m just here to learn” protection, and are not another job-hungry post-grad. It is paramount to recognize that this is a power that all students possess and need to fully leverage. Email people who work in positions you want to get to someday, and ask them for career advice. Actually apply their advice and mine them for more information. Follow up with them and show how you are actually applying their advice, and they will remember you the next time an opening comes up!
2. Learn about what you want from life, and get work experience in that field
One of the most common career challenges people face is not knowing what they want from life. Take the time to experiment and get to know your strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you happy. If you can get paid to use your strengths and do something that makes you happy, do it!
3. Teach yourself when school doesn’t cut it
Self-learning should be an ongoing process, and you should expect that school will not teach you everything you need to know. Absolutely great ways I personally teach myself outside of school are through Ted Talks and the Khan Academy for business topics. Forbes.com is another great resource. But a tangible example of self-learning is to just start up a blog and try stuff out with it! You can easily put ‘Familiar with WordPress/Blogger’ on your resume, and hey, that’s an in-demand skill.
4. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come up through friends. Eg. “Hey I’m going to this thing … want to come with?”
You will not only have the best adventures if you say yes to this question, but you will get to know a lot of different people and heck, maybe even learn a skill or two. Best of all, saying yes to spontaneous questions like this show that you are an open-minded person who fits into lots of different scenarios, and people might be more willing to ask you to do things/refer you to other people 🙂
5. Create content and get it published.
Start a blog, tweet, write for the local newspaper, and get your name published! Or even better, do some preliminary project work for some companies you really want to work at, and contact them with the work you did – maybe land yourself an internship with your initiative! It’s already tough to stand out from your colleagues with the exact same education as you. Creating content differentiates you from the crowd, and shows that you are an engaged individual who is curious about what’s happening around you.
Some food for thought: There are few who would say formalized post-secondary education is a bad idea, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to think about why we do what we do every once in a while. I encourage you to watch this video and redefine education 🙂