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12 minutes reading time (2470 words)

Student Guide: How to lay the right foundation for building a great career.

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I once did a survey when I was a student, among my course mates briefly after I met a lady who didn't really have plans for her future.

The survey was triggered as a result of the lady's lack of ambition, and at the end of the survey, it was clear that she's not the only in such a predicament.

Anyway, having an ambition is never enough. Setting your career goals, laying the foundations for it and working towards it, is the key to building a great career.

You will be surprised to learn that over 70% of the students in your school aren't doing anything tangible to aid their future attempt at getting their dream job.

In fact, most students would rather wait till they are out of school and in the job hunting market with a limited vacancy for fresh inexperienced graduates.

These are always the ones complaining day-in day-out due to frustration. After partying (and sometimes studying) in school, they graduate into the real world and realize that they actually don't have what it takes to gain their dream work environment.

This is usually because such quality organizations hardly smile on fresh graduates. They are always out to find the best possible candidates that are capable of adding some value to their team and as we all know, this value is acquired from some substantial work experiences.

It is from practising what you were thought in school that you fully utilize the knowledge and possibly become a professional/expert in the field.

As a student (or whatever level you are in your career path), you should, first of all, ensure you are on the right career path and then lay the foundations for achieving your career goals.


How do you lay the foundation?

When I talk about laying the foundation for building a great career, I'm simply referring to the necessary steps you need to take in order to gain that dream job in the near future. 

What will it take for you to gain that dream job and are you doing anything to aid your efforts? Okay, you are probably aware that there are some requirements or added advantages for winning a good employment opportunity in most quality companies but are you doing anything to use this to your own advantage?

What will it take to be the best candidate for your dream job? What extra mile can you go in a bid to be employed in your chosen workplace? Do you have the right skillset, experience, network as well as qualification to win your dream job?

Yes, these are the real factors that affect your chances of getting your dream job. You should also follow my financial education series.


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Gain some quality job experiences

'We need a technical engineer that is below 21 years old with over 5years of work experience.' At one point or the other, most job seekers have come across this type of statement by employers and it sends a strong message to the core.

As a fresh graduate looking for an employment opportunity, you may wonder how recruiters expect you to gain a five-year work experience before 21years when most people are just graduating from school then.

How exactly are you supposed to gain the experience when your first job itself requires you to already have some working experience? This is why laying the foundation is important.

If you are a student who has practical plans for the future and probably wants to save yourself a lot of time as well as catapult yourself to a better work position in your desired company, you should lay the foundation for it right from your school days.

Just don't wait till you are out of school. Use every free time you get to gain some quality work experiences. If you are a part-time student, great.

Get a job within your field (bartender kind of jobs don't count). Otherwise, take part in any extracurricular activity that is capable of adding something good to your resume.

Virtually every school has a group for every career path. You can always find a group such as modelling club, basketball club, programmers club, journalists club, lawyers club etc. and if you can't find a club for your field, create one.

Being part of groups such as these do not only improve your knowledge but also gives you an opportunity to build your experience and probably create a good track record which will surely aid you once you join the workforce.

To bring your job experience in these groups, you have to ensure your group is not just gathering and chatting away. The more engaging activities your group creates, the more value it adds to you. 

Let's say you are an aspiring model and you join a modelling club in school, there's a high probability that your club will train you on the practical modeling lessons (through thorough practice) as well as organize, attend or perform in several modelling events and before you are out of school, you must have gained several modelling experiences.

Even as a full-time student, have you considered getting a part-time job? In fact, don't bother about the money, just apply to be an intern at any good company for a position in your field. 

Being an intern gives you a first-hand experience of how it feels to be a professional in your field and also creates an endless pool of employment opportunities for you when you do your job well. 

I actually recommend you try to hit a milestone during your internship since such accomplishments are what counts on the resume. Working there is never enough. 

The question is, what did you achieve as an employee there? What value did you add to the organization? Just do an excellent job!

And if you can't get a job, volunteer for any quality task that is related to your field. Maybe they need some students to help in organizing an event and you plan to work in the event industry, pray tell, what is stopping you from taking part? 

Volunteer for any stuff that is capable of helping your career tomorrow (as long as you can do it). How about if you are aiming for the political sector? Consider joining the Student Union and gaining some leadership roles. 

Even when you are not a politician, if you have been a leader that accomplished a sophisticated task, it becomes an added advantage in getting management jobs and we all know such jobs pay more, grant you more freedom and it's the goal of every employee to advance to that level. 

How do you expect an organization to put you in charge without any prior experience? Lay the foundations first! You may want to join me on my journey as I launch a fresh entertainment company.


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Network with well-to-do people

The university is not a place for only studies. If it was, your school won't be organizing parties, political affairs, sports activities etc. Being a student accords you enough opportunity to broaden your network and grow your connection with a lot of quality people who are capable of helping you grow your career. 

Whether we like it or not, most people get their dream job through networking. Most times, your huge job experience list is never enough as the recruiter is more likely going to give the job to someone he is familiar with or to that person who spiced up his evening during the last dinner party he attended.

Do you remember that young man who got one of the best jobs in town immediately after graduation? He laid the foundation! What foundation? He networked with someone capable of recommending him for the job, a recruiter or the employer!

Yes, your fellow students are future recruiters and employers of labour. And it doesn't stop there. Most of them are children of the elites. Children of the rich and powerful don't hunt for jobs. 

They already have quality jobs waiting for them and if they decide to hunt for other jobs, they get it easily because of who they are. Now, do you know what happens when you are their close friend or acquaintance? 

You easily get recommended for a job too! Some students will instantly get top management position jobs after graduation and if you networked with them (and was very helpful), you could put a call through and get hired in no time.

The key is to find and network with the quality ones. To get a better shot, network with those at a higher level than you especially those that are about to graduate as this accords them enough time to get established before you join the labour market. 

This way, you will already have enough friends in top positions capable of catapulting your career. 'Birds of the same feather flock together.' That saying is as true as it can get. You are only as great as the friends you hang out with. 

If you are Grade-B and you only have friends who are Grade-B, then you may never move to Grade-A as the habits of your Grade-B friends will always reflect on you. 

Humans are usually influenced by their surroundings and they tend to improve when they have something pushing them.

This means if you want a better shot, you have to mingle with those who can make it happen. But then again, you have to bring something to the table. I mean, why would a Grade-A even consider hanging out with a Grade-B? 

They don't want someone to slow them down of course so, what will they gain from helping you out? It works better when it's a win-win scenario. Be valuable!


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Build your skill level

These days, it is pretty much a requirement for job seekers to have professional communication skills as well as having a complete computer literacy and those without it might not even be given the opportunity to prove their worth to the interviewers but it doesn't end there. 

Those who have additional complementing skills or proficiency in higher tools/materials/resources that prove useful to the work are a lot more qualified compared to their counterparts.

Take a look at this scenario. If I'm interviewing some candidates for an accounting position, who do you think I will hire if I find someone with the ability to handle several accounting software/applications while some of them are just good with excel and the rest are a complete novice? 

I know for sure that I will hire the one that can operate more accounting applications! The more skills he has, the better. How about if you run a tech company, you need a programmer and three persons apply with several skills. 

Who would you hire if Person-A can program IOs, Android, PHP and Java, Person-B is good with Java, PHP, Ruby, C#, C++, IOs, Android and Person-C only has a Java and PHP programming skill?

Believe me, even if the tech department only needs a Java programming skill, I would still hire Person-B! Most employers need versatile people with a broad knowledge in their field. 

The more you know, the higher your worth and the closer you are to being a professional/expert. Simply use every opportunity to learn as much as you can especially things that relate to your career path. 


What are the hottest skills acquired by the industry leaders in your field? Do you have the skill? If not, what are you waiting for? Yes, you may decide to start small with no skill and hope to build your career from there but why do that when you could literally get a supervisor's job position if you acquired the needed skills on time? Skills can grow your career faster than your qualification.

I mean, virtually everyone can own a B.sc these days so what separates you from the crowd? Add the skills that matter. 

Use your undergraduate days to gain as many important skills as possible because depending on your job, you may no longer have the time to do it once you are employed and if you don't have the skills, you may never get your dream job (except of course your dream job is the minimum wage kind of jobs). 

By the way, I have prepared a complete guide on how to build a profitable membership website (using Joomla) like Ghavoch here.


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Conclusion

Average people don't get great jobs except through nepotism so, if you really intend to gain that excellent job, you should seriously work on your career.

Building a great career of your dream will not happen overnight as it is a gradual process and there are certain foundations to be laid.

At the end of the day, it's not too late to start building your career whether you are out of school or not. Starting it from school is just important if you value your time.

This is to say, while your mates are struggling to get their life on track with their first job, you would probably have a great management position in a good company already.

However, if you didn't lay the foundations in school, (you've wasted years, yes but) you could still start now, using the same principles above to get yourself to the height of your career ladder.

And if you have laid the foundation and have successfully gained a job in an organization you love but you still wish to advance higher to a better position.

Well, here's how to build a successful career but always remember that the greatness of your career depends on your skill level, educational qualification, work experience as well as the connections you have.

Financial Education 101

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