Are you familiar with questions like: “What do you plan to do after you graduate university?” and “Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?” The process of discovering your interests and setting goals for your professional life may seem daunting, especially as an international student. Here’s some core guidelines to help set you up for a fulfilling career after your studies.
- Seek mentorship: Having mentors and people who can support you in your career journey is important. You may have questions or concerns about a certain industry, company or even planning your career in general. By having a mentor, you can learn directly from his or her experiences, accumulated knowledge or through someone from their network. How can you get mentors then? Be willing to sign up for info sessions, mentorship programs, and networking events organized by your school or companies. When I was in my first year of university, I joined a mentorship program in my faculty. My mentor connected me with resources that helped me grow more familiar and comfortable with career goals and planning.
- Seek resources within and outside your school: The process of creating a resume and writing a cover letter requires a level of knowledge on best practices to be used. Therefore, you should attend workshops that offer career guidance and tips on how to create a resume and cover letter. You can also find videos, articles, and other resources online that could help you navigate your professional development.
- Do more than just classes: Prior to my arrival in Canada, my parents and loved ones reinforced the need to stay focused on classes and take my education seriously. Education is very important; however, there are many more enlightening experiences you can gain outside the classroom. For example, you can be involved in student organizations within your school or volunteer your time and skills to different initiatives. Not only will these activities help you grow personally, but you can also gain skills and knowledge that will enable you stand out in the job market. Additionally, you can be strategic about the extra-curricular activities you engage in by tailoring them specifically to your interests and proposed future career.
- Maximize LinkedIn and make connections: LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and a great tool that I have used in my professional development. With this application, you can connect with industry professionals, find jobs, and gain tips and tricks to help your career journey. I have found quite a few individuals and organizations that aim to help international students maximize their potential. You will be surprised at how many individuals and organizations willingly reach out to international students to offer encouragement and assistance with students’ challenges and questions.
- Remain open-minded and willing to learn: One of the new mantras I’ve incorporated into my life is never say never. In this journey of discovering and forging your career path, you may need to acquire new skills and embrace perspectives you never considered. I’ve heard many stories of individuals who eventually took a completely different career path from the ones they had envisioned. As we encounter new experiences and knowledge, parts of us change which could influence our career choice. By remaining open-minded, you give room for growth and limitless opportunities. It may be difficult overcoming your fears at first, but a growth mindset can become stronger by truly investing in yourself.