Just a couple of years ago, you graduated high school; now, you’re stuck working the same low-wage nine-to-five job. You’re wondering just how the heck you can possibly survive and get educated so you can move on and move up to a better career. If you can relate, this article is for you! Good education does take time, but you don’t need to spend years in school just to land your dream job. Try these strategies instead.
Everyone loves the idea of a perfect job, but most of us know we need education to get there. The thought of spending four or even eight years learning may seem daunting (and expensive), but that doesn’t need to hold you back. From picking an industry instead of a job to learning how to use your resources to speed up the process, this article has all the information you need to speed up the process.
Here’s What You Can Do Right Now to Get into Your Chosen Career Field
Pick an Industry Instead of a Job
Finding the perfect job right off the bat is very unlikely, and it’s difficult to know whether your interests will change after you spend some time learning. That’s why it’s often wiser to set your targets on an industry, rather than a specific job.
First, the dream job you’re thinking about right now likely won’t available the moment you graduate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and start at the bottom right now. Set yourself up for future success by getting a foot in the door in your chosen field with an entry-level position, even if it’s not your “dream.” More than a few highly successful people started as receptionists or fry cooks, only to work there way all the way up to the top of a company within a few years.
Create a Career Road Map
Everyone makes mistakes (yes, you, too — and it’s normal). That’s why early experience in your field is valuable. Envision where you think your interests will take you by mapping out how you see the next two years, five years, and 10 years. Be as specific as you can, detailing every hop in the process. Then, go back and review where you can make changes or add in a step (like job shadowing or volunteering) to add that critical experience and get you in the game faster.
Cultivate Soft Skills
Don’t forget that industry-related skills are only one piece of the puzzle. Soft skills (also known as interpersonal skills) like communication, conflict resolution, and the ability to really listen are all incredibly valuable to employers, regardless of field. Moreover, you can learn these skills just about anywhere – at school, while volunteering, or even while taking part in extracurricular activities like sports.
If you can’t move forward with hard skills right now, for whatever reason, dial it back a notch and focus on your interpersonal skills instead. You’ll be more prepared when you do enter the right industry, putting you ahead of the game (and everyone else).
Connections and Networks are Everything
You can only get so far on your own. Maybe that’s why connections and networking are such an immense part of succeeding in the workforce these days. Pretty much everyone professional is on at least one social media site (usually LinkedIn). If you aren’t there, employers may believe you lack ambition.
Start establishing your “professional” presence as soon after high school as you can, even if you aren’t necessarily a professional yet. You can brand yourself by what you want to do and what you’ve done already. Then, show your early skills in your dream industry by actively learning and creating content for your presence.
Try LinkedIn’s many industry groups for connecting to others already in the industry. Getting involved lets you meet movers and shakers who just might offer to mentor you (or hire you) when they see you making an effort.
Look for Work-Study Programs
Work-study programs can be incredibly useful for shortening the amount of time it takes you to get that sweet dream job. Plus, they’re a really useful way to bring in cash, survive, and thrive, all at the same time.
Here’s the downside: these programs aren’t always easy to find in every industry. Try the Federal Work-Study Program, found here, to see if what you want to do might be on the list. It’s also wise to ask local businesses if they’ll employ you, or take you on as an apprentice, while you learn.
Long-term dream job visions don’t need to keep you locked into learning or grinding for decades just to get you what you want. Take those visions and make them a reality by making the right choices and identifying the right opportunities early on. You can start doing this right now, even if you’re working or just graduated high school recently.