Classes turning virtual. Stores closing. It feels like the world is on halt during this COVID-19 crisis. With summer internships canceling, it seems like there isn’t much you can do during this time to gain professional experience.
It’s time to think again.
With more free time in your hands, this is the prime time for you to do all those things you planned on doing towards career advancement but never had the time for.
1. Spring clean your LinkedIn and strengthen it
Building a strong LinkedIn profile takes time and effort, and you probably haven’t got the chance to really sit down and work on it. Now is your chance to build your online persona, starting with LinkedIn. Make sure you have a profile picture and bio to start with. When employers see your LinkedIn profile being half empty with bits of information here and there and doesn’t even have a profile picture, it’s likely that you would be a less attractive candidate among the many. A banner picture would be a nice additional touch.
After you have the basics set up, make sure you add in your educational history. And that includes more than just your school name and the attending years. It is crucial for you to include the various activities and organizations you were involved in during those school years, any leadership positions, and relevant coursework (for college). If you have a LinkedIn profile, it’s likely you already have some information on there, maybe you put in one or two work experience on there, but maybe the description is incomplete. When putting in job experience on LinkedIn, especially recent ones and ones that are relevant to the career field you are aiming for in the future, it is important to add in job description to let potential employers know what you’ve done in those past roles. This way, they’re going to have a better understanding of your capabilities.
2. Build your own professional portfolio website
Having an online presence is an important part of building your professional profile. This applies especially to communication, marketing, and media industries. Once you have enough information on LinkedIn and are satisfied with it, you can take the next step and build a website or online portfolio!
Think of your website as an extended version of your LinkedIn profile. On LinkedIn, you can only put so much information on it. It is hard to truly express yourself and convey your skills to your fullest potential. Your website gives you the liberty to show potential employers who you are and what you can offer to the table. Provide details and even pictures of your work experience and school involvement, showcase your accomplishments, and most importantly, display your work portfolio. Provide any writing samples, graphic design samples, video samples, presentations and whatever you have. These samples don’t have to be for a professional workplace. Work you did for college courses is completely understandable to put on there since you are still in school. Employers are going to want to look at those and these are great resources to show employers your skills and what you have to offer.
3. Take certification/online courses
Throughout the semester, it is difficult to find the time to take extra online courses or certification courses since you already have trouble juggling your primary responsibilities. With more extra time, you will be able to take some classes and get certifications to build your professional portfolio. HubSpot and Hootsuite are great platforms for certification courses along with Skillshare and LinkedIn learning. Certification courses are great ways to learn more about your desired career industry and gain more insights into topics school doesn’t necessarily teach.
4. Look for remote internships/positions
Even though many summer internships have been canceled, your summer doesn’t have to go to waste! Many companies are not looking for remote interns or even temporary employees to assist with their work. Visit the different job search sites and lookup remote positions and apply! Remote internships, despite lacking the in-office and in-person experience, are still valuable job experience as it allows you to get used to working independently and keeping yourself accountable. Something future employers are going to be impressed with!
5. Informational interviews
Lastly, this is not something that directly contributes to your professional profile but is a great way to get insight into your desired career industry. Networking doesn’t have to always be in person! Go to LinkedIn and look up people who are working in companies you admire or working in positions you are aiming for. A good starting point is to look at alumni from your school. If you find someone interesting, someone you admire, go ahead and send them a message on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself, let them know you’re interested in learning more about their company, their position, and how they got to where they are, and ask if they’d like to get on a call with you sometime for an informational interview. What’s the worst that can happen? They ignore you. That’s it. You have nothing to lose. But if you do get to chat with someone, it’ll be a great, quick, and easy way to learn more about the company, position and the industry. This can better prepare you for your future career.
This time is a great way to strengthen your professional profile. But remember, it is important to take some time to yourself and not burn out! Life is all about balance. Good luck, collegiettes!