All of us wish to apply and get selected to opportunities. Having that coveted scholarship, internship with your dream company and winning a challenging competition is a way of proving our mettle and also taking one step closer to our goals.
But when there is a lot of competition, how do we differentiate ourselves? How do we pick up the skills needed and build a profile that reviewers cannot say no to?
While we may not know what exactly would make your application click, there are some things that you can do to improve your odds. And it is not just about getting selected but also about building the right skills that will make you career-ready.
The key point here is to take up substantial responsibility to do a piece of work. Whether you do this by creating your own project or you take up the responsibility within an organisation as a part of your volunteering activity or internship.
Let’s now look at some activities you can take up in this regard. Do note that not all these activities carry equal weightage. The impact that some of these will have on your profile will be way greater than others.
To give you a sense of how these rank, we have organised them in decreasing order of importance.
Doing a project is a great way to learn deeper about your interest areas. By practically working around themes of your choice and actually demonstrating outcomes, you portray that you have acquired the required skills to accomplish such outcomes. It also shows that you have a practical, hands-on experience along with theoretical understanding.
When you travel to meetups and networking conferences, you can begin by introducing yourself as someone who is building a project and not just as a student.
Getting some professional work experience right while in college can help you assess work environments and understand the kind of work you would like to pursue upon graduation. Internships are a great way to associate with companies that interest you and try working there before actually joining in.
Your online presence matters. People actually search for you online. So what about you is up on the internet and what people make of it matter much. Building out a decent online presence can definitely be an investment.
It is important not just to do things but also to talk about it or in other words, publish information online. This ties back to you having an online presence and also about you being credible enough.
Whether you do a project, work with an organization or win a competition, it is always good practice to share news about it along with your learning. So how did you find that volunteering opportunity? How did you prepare to win the competition? People like to know these things and you sharing all this information will only add to your accolades and make you deem trustworthy.
If you code, try making open source contributions. If you have a leadership role in an organisation, write about your experiences, challenges and impact.
If you are doing a project or researching on something, try and get it published on a journal or present it at a conference.
All that you share will finally add up.
Volunteering with organisations is a great way to experience leadership, teamwork and also participate in creating real impact. You pick up a lot of real-world professional skills as well.
Identify a cause that you relate to and see if you can work with an organisation that shares your values and interests.
Conferences are networking events where you meet and interact with like-minded people. Attending conferences around your area of interest is a good starting point for you to network and discover the kind of activity happening around the space. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to be updated about the latest happenings and also find new avenues to work on.
Whether you are interested in android development, digital marketing or even economics. There are tons of online courses available today that help you learn on the go and sometimes, even get certified.
Completing a nanodegree or an online course on a topic of your interest can further show that you really do have a keen interest towards learning the topic deeper.
Websites such as Udacity, Coursera, EdX, NPTEL offer courses you can take. They will make a great addition to your resume.
There are a number of amazing innovation challenges and competitions out there that you can participate in. Such competitions help you evaluate your ideas and capabilities. They sometimes even open up avenues for mentorship or financial aid in developing your ideas as well.
Communities are a thing these days. They are best known for bringing people with similar interests together and foster shared learning among them. Depending on your interests, locating and joining such communities might help you connect with people of similar interests and also learn from them.
Contributing back to such communities by sharing your bit of learning with the community and hosting programs for them is also well appreciated.
Begin your process of utilising opportunities as soon as you can. Have you basic application elements such as Resume, essays et al ready. They may not be exceptional when you start off but in time, as you keep making progress, if you keep editing and refining them, they will stand out.
Ultimately if there is no flesh in your Resume, that is if you haven’t really done anything while in college, there will nothing that you’ll be able to write on your Resume about. So it is important for you to always keep an eye on what you've already done and what more you can to to improve your profile.
Sometimes you may have it all - a great project, wonderful Resume and a stellar Recommendation letter. But if you aren’t able to successfully apply and write well about all that you have done, then you stay fall short.
This is why you need to keep applying to opportunities no matter what. Every time you apply, you learn something new and over time your application and knowledge about what works best for you becomes more clear.
It is only through experience that you can craft an application that truly stands out. It takes time, effort and requires you to keep applying until you break the code.