A Student’s Guide To Working in 2021

Table of Contents

Getting a job is hard. Position hunting, writing resumes and booking interviews takes time and effort. Plus it can be daunting and scary.

I see students complete courses and feel lost going into the workforce. I’m asked, “How do I apply for a job? What jobs can I get? What’s the best way to get hired?”

It sucks seeing students feeling lost. This article aims to give you the confidence I’ve gained from my experience. I’ve freelanced, started a company and had multiple roles as a teacher. This will start you on your working journey on the right foot!

#1 Correct Mindset Toward Work

woman looking through window
Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

“Working… is good for our health and wellbeing. It contributes to our happiness, helps us to build confidence, self-esteem, and rewards us financially.” – Fit For Work.

Don’t approach work as a bad thing. Avoiding work is a waste of time, you could be nurturing skills and helping others. Remember, we all have to work in this world.

Work is your contribution to society. It’s the following areas:

  1. A necessary part of living.
  2. Your lively hood – what will support you and your family.
  3. Enjoyable and satisfying long term.

Work pushes us forward and gives us experience. We’re in situations we otherwise wouldn’t be. There are countless opportunities to learn and grow so start appreciating work. It brings responsibility and accountability, see these as assets. Show gratitude for the work you can contribute to.

“Work provides income, social connection, routine, distraction from rumination and has the potential to offer an avenue for achievement.” – The Sydney Morning Herald

#2 Learning Is a Forever Thing

Study for your job and learn on your job.

Learning doesn’t stop with school or a course, it’s a life long thing. Work supports your learning journey so notice learning opportunities. They’re everywhere.

Work will teach you these lessons if you allow it.

  1. Adaptability: Approach unique situations and people.
  2. Resilience: Apply yourself when you don’t want too.
  3. Teamwork: Ability to support others over yourself.

Unless you have a highly sort after, unique position, go broad. It’s more beneficial to have a broad set of skills rather than one mastered skill. You’ll master your profession over time, don’t worry about that.

“Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.” – Scott Adams via Forbes

Benefits of a life long learner are large. You’ll be more fulfilled and less regretful over time. That’s because it’s ingrained into how we operate as humans. Think when you’ve completed a school project or spent hours grinding your favourite video game. When you work at something and complete it, you feel a sense of wholeness.

#3 Go Out and Start Networking

five person standing while talking each other
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Skills become assets from experience, not from study.

To gain more experience, go out and start networking. Building a network is like making friends you can rely on for work stuff. We need friends in our lives to talk too and ask for help. A strong network is something you can rely on when you need it.

“Almost 80% of professionals consider networking to be important to new job opportunities and career success” – LinkedIn Blog.

To network successfully have this in mind:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Show interest in others
  3. Help others first before yourself
  4. Listen, don’t speak over people
  5. Don’t sell yourself, be helpful

There are two ways of networking, online and in-person. Both have strengths and weaknesses so it’s important to do both. Start with in-person by searching Meetup, EventBrite, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Search. Find the next local business networking event and register. Most are free for your first visit and some are always free.

Is scary the first time, if you hang back and don’t talk to anyone, that’s okay! Remember no one knows more than you, others will be nervous and it’ll be their first time too. Don’t worry about business cards, connect with people on LinkedIn in person. It’s fun and more engaging using a QR scanner, plus you won’t have to search later.

Go to events with curiosity and a sense of adventure.

Be inquisitive and ask lots of questions, especially ‘why.’ People love talking about themselves, use that to your advantage. Question their motives, give honest feedback and share your insights. When delivered with kindness and respect, you’ll make more high-quality connections. Don’t get stuck with one person the entire event. Instead, connect on LinkedIn and talk in more detail after. You’re there to network!

After a few in-person events, you’ve jumped the hurdle of networking and you’re ready for online. It’s much easier to attend and equally easy not to be social, that’s why in-person is first.

Online offers unique opportunities to provide links and resources in real-time. Remember, be helpful. If someone can’t think of a YouTube channel or news article, search it up on their behalf and share it with the group. Before the end of the event, if appropriate, share your LinkedIn profile and encourage others to continue the discussion there.

Leverage LinkedIn’s power and optimise your profile for hire with “Keywords for target role, your target industry of expertise, your unique value” – Madeline Mann.

#4 Apply, Stop Making Excuses

It’s time to apply yourself, put earnest effort into all things. If you give high-value effort you’ll receive more opportunities in your work life.

Write a killer resume by searching for examples or using a tool like Rezi. Search Seek, ProductHunt or LinkedIn for available positions. Update your LinkedIn profile showing what you’re looking for and share a post with more details.

Lean on your network and send personalised messages offering ways to help and add value. People respond to those who show initiative and put themselves out there.

If there are no positions available, apply yourself to freelancing. The gig economy is a growing sector with more people finding careers and full-time work.

“The gig economy presents an opportunity for leaders and workers to collaborate and redefine the way the social contract between the parties is understood.” – Forbes.

Search Fiverr, Freelancer.com or UpWork and see what gigs are on offer. Either offer existing skills or learning new ones according to what’s trending. Freelance web design is a great service to try!

#5 Record and Share Your Journey

woman sitting on grey cliff
Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

The nature of landing your dream job has changed. Swanky credentials are becoming less desirable in favour of high-quality content creation and recent work. The goal is to show your potential.

“People are looking for experiences and growth, and the need for stability is not so ingrained.” – Andrew Brushfield via Seek.

Write daily journals to track thoughts and increase self-awareness. Create healthy writing habits grow your skills over time. Then, build a blog using WordPress on managed hosting. Package your ideas into actionable content to showcase skills.

Keep consistent uploads and use posts as evergreen content you can repurpose later. Consume content for inspiration and follow high-quality creators. I recommend Julian Shapiro, Guy Raz, Paul Jarvis and Ali Abdaal.

Using WordPress, build an online portfolio from your learnings and projects. Only include your most recent work that shouts “I’m the bomb, work with me.” Regularly share to LinkedIn your insights and experiences. Take the time to celebrate when completing courses and achieving milestones. Pat yourself on the back, share the journey and invite others along for ride.

“By sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work…” – Austin Kleon.

If you struggle to put yourself out there, write posts in your journal and get feedback from a friend before posting. Even if you don’t post, start to create the habit. After some time you’ll feel more comfortable to share.

About The Author
Ashley Ball

Ashley Ball

Hi, I'm Ash. I'm a teacher, web designer and content creator from Australia. I like making things simple. I like staying connected, learning about design and being an entrepreneur. Subscribe for insights via my weekly newsletter.
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