by Marco Maccario, eLoft Careers Student Blogger, Graduate Political Science and Spanish Literature (University of Western Ontario) and International Development (Humber College)
Starting Your Career Isn’t Easy
In the world we currently live in, I feel like everyone is always trying to uncover the best formula to make finding an ideal job that much easier. Back in my parents’ day, it seemed like work and jobs were so easy to find when you graduated. Now, things seem so much more complicated when you are starting out in your career. It is all about the connections you make, the websites you apply on and the networking coffee meetings you go on. I agree that all these are necessary ingredients to a successful job search recipe and finding an ideal job, but, I think there are other ingredients that are missing to this recipe that could truly enhance your success today and go a long way to future career success. The next several ingredients really helped me in landing a true dream internship at the United Nations and I would love to give you some insight on why I believe they helped me.
The 1st Ingredient: Learn Languages
The first ingredient that has helped in many aspects of my life: learning another language. Whether I was travelling, meeting new people, in a work setting or interviewing for a job, knowing another language was truly a differentiator! I was lucky to be raised in an Italian family, so I was blessed to know Italian by birth. However, I did not stop there as I came to understand that languages are not only interesting but an essential ingredient to success. It is never too late to learn a language and even basic working knowledge of a language can be helpful in life and work. I took on Spanish at the high school level and as a minor in University. From there I worked abroad using my Spanish and now have clients from Spanish speaking countries. The United Nations were looking for people that could speak other languages so having been raised in English/Italian and learning Spanish starting in high school, I had a good edge over other candidates. Many companies operate outside the Canadian or North American borders, so languages can be a terrific asset.
One of the easiest ways to start learning a language is online through websites such as duoLingo (https://www.duolingo.com/) or Rosetta Stone (http://www.rosettastone.ca/). From there I would recommend joining classes, local cultural clubs and go out in the community and learn the language real-time by speaking it. Going out and interacting with people who speak the language you are trying to learn is a great strategy and perhaps you can exchange languages by teaching someone English while you are taught their language. Finally, if you are able, travel and immerse yourself in the language and culture you are trying to learn. Even if you have to start with hand gestures, being forced to speak another language works wonders to progress your skills.
The 2nd Ingredient: Go Global
This leads me to my second ingredient...international work experience whether that is volunteering or a paid job. Being able to show a future employer that you immersed yourself in a new country and culture, lived on your own while going to work and getting familiar with your new surroundings are important ingredients in the right direction for a perfect recipe. Employers will see that you are adaptable, resilient, open-minded, adventurous, and open to change and challenge. All of these are qualities many employers are looking for in a new employee. The United Nations were looking for someone with these qualities to be an international advocate, and my languages, combined with my experience of having done an exchange, supported my success both at United Nations and when I went to Mexico to work for a not for profit.
The 3rd Ingredient: Post Graduate Education
Finally, my last ingredient, post graduate education. If you are able, pursuing a post graduate degree in the field that interests whether a Master’s Degree or a one-year post-graduate program at a College or University can help bridge your success into a great career. Each field is different but, in my case, a one-year degree at Humber College worked perfectly following University. It gave me that extra education piece that the United Nations was looking for. Graduating from a University is great but sometimes you need to follow up those four years with an intensive postgraduate degree to tie it all together. There are plenty of Colleges and Universities out there that offer great programs. To be completely honest with you I was always steered away from Colleges, but I learned more in my one year at Humber College then my four years at Western University. I have always been a University person but College was just so much more hands-on. The classes were practical and useful, and it really helped me be able to practice things I would need to do in the field and the work place. Post-graduate degrees often consist of a co-op component that gives you work experience (international in my case), but may also lead to a future job opportunity with that co-op employer. On that note I truly believe any relevant experience, whether that is volunteer work or as an intern, is very useful in building a great resume. In the end, when an employer looks at your resume, they won’t care if you were paid or not for your experience. They will just appreciate that you have the experience. If you ever have days off from school or some weekends available definitely try to volunteer, work somewhere or take classes… don't let that time go to waste, when it could be for the benefit of your future.
In conclusion, looking for a job is a full-time job. Stay humble and accept anything you can related to your field to gain experience because you may not get your ideal job right off the bat, but related experience will only help you to progress in the future. Spending time trying to become the next Foodie on Instagram or trying to think of an app no one has discovered is great, but even more important is to think about where you want to go, the type of job you dream of and add the ingredients bit by bit that will move you in this direction. I believe this approach was the recipe that helped me arrive at the UN headquarters in New York and will help you arrive wherever you would dream of for the future!