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“What are the steps to increase my career prospects as a student?”

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Author: Larry Medina (Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific

 


I hear this question a lot as the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School.

The first step is to know where you want to go. There are three primary dimensions to consider:  Firstly, location or geography; secondly, industry; and the third, role or function. 

As you start thinking about each dimension, consider that there’s a higher probability of changing one dimension than two.

To change all three dimensions, “never say never,” but know that there’s a lower probability and will require more work to execute.  Let me comment on each dimension in order. 

#1  Location

Before Covid-19, constraints on the labor movement to Singapore and many other countries were increasing. The increased restrictions started to gain momentum after the Great Financial Crisis in 2008/2009, and Covid-19 has accelerated that trend. 

Again,“never say never.” If you want to work in Singapore or other countries with increased restrictions, it will take more patience and work. You will need to sharpen your unique selling proposition — a combination of skills that are in short supply in your target market.

#2  Industry

As for the industry, employers will look at which sector you did your internships or full-time work. When changing industries, think about your skills, especially transferrable skills and interests. It is essential to be able to say exactly why you are interested in your target industry. 

In addition to your interests, also think about the size and growth in your target industry.  For example, some industries are thriving in this Covid-19 environment, while others are struggling.

If you are interested in a struggling sector (e.g., hospitality), again, “never say never” but know it may take patience and significantly more work to break in at this moment. 

The overall size of an industry also gives some idea of relative opportunities.  There are several sources available such as this article by the Advisor Channel [https://advisor.visualcapitalist.com/sp-500-sectors-and-industries].

#3  Function

Finally, you should think about what functional area is for you. Functional areas are finance, marketing, human resources, operations, and more. 

To fine-tune your target function, the next step is to think about the specific role. For example, a particular role in human resources could be in Talent Acquisition, Benefits, Business Partner, Generalist, and more. 

Your interests and skills should align with your target roles. If you are uncertain about your preferred industry or function, I recommend that you network with others to get more information.  I will cover networking in another Weekly Career Tips.

Conclusion

To recap, you have to know where you want to go in order to get there.  Your clarity will guide the rest of the steps in your internship and job search. 

Next week, I will discuss about understanding your skills, motivations, and interests. Understanding yourself will help you as you start to think about where you would like to go. 

Larry Medina is the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School. For more career tips, follow #careertipswithlarry. Read previous tips from this series.

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