On September 29th, the S2BN network held the "Breaking into Industry" panel event, where we brought together three guest panelists from three biotechnology companies based in Kingston, Ontario. Our very own K-Town is home to companies that working right now to further innovation in the biomedical, environmental and chemical industries.
Our guest speakers included:
- Nuala Trainor, director of Biological Programs at Octane
- Brian Mariampillai, director of Business Development at GreenCentre Canada
- Fred Godbille, technical senior manager at DuPont.
They not only gave us a glimpse into their work life and industry experience but also shared tips on how to boost your chances of finding and getting the job once you are ready to start job hunting.
So, what can you do now, as a student, to boost your chances of finding a job and getting it?
Here are 3 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW that will make you stand out as a job candidate and help you find a job as soon as you graduate:
1. Do more networking
I know, it sounds cliche, but it IS that important and it is NOT as hard as you think.
Many people picture networking as approaching strangers in a networking event and subtly (or not so subtly) hinting to them that they want a job.
Two words: wrong approach!
The truth is, any time you are interacting with other people, you’re networking. It's not that you should never mention that you are job searching, you should. But there's a difference between expressing your current situation and walking up to people to ask if they have a position in their company.
Instead of focusing on finding out if someone has a job for you, focus on what you can offer. Try having genuine conversations with people and be willing to share your knowledge. You will get to know the interesting things other people do and often discover ways in which you can help each other. In exchange, you may hear about a job opening that is not publicly posted or learn details about the needs of a company you want to work for. Maybe you will make a new friend.
That's good networking, and you can practice it as a skill.
Make it a goal to attend an activity once a month where you can meet new people. If it’s a career oriented event, great, but don’t limit yourself. Doing this regularly will not only help you improve your conversation skills but will also expand your network. In the future, the people you know (AKA, your network) will allow you to connect to people and places you’re interested in that you may not have access to by yourself.
2. Have some volunteering or side job experience
There is a reason why hiring managers pay attention to these things. These experiences are the perfect opportunity to hone professional skills such as management, teamwork, and negotiation.
Any job where you had to communicate with a supervisor or work with other people towards a specific goal is a job that has trained you on these skills.
Challenge yourself to join a group or a project that sounds interesting to you. If it’s something related to your career, great. But even if it isn’t related to your career, do it anyway, particularly if it's something you enjoy.
Whatever you do, you will be learning something new and, as a bonus, you will be automatically expanding your network of peers and people that can give you good references.
2. Take a business course
In other words, use your time in university to learn additional skills. Why a business course in particular? Because improving your business acumen is useful to any job.
Topics such corporate communication, operations management and corporate marketing can provide great insights into the problems that are common to most organizations.
Audit a business course, or take it online, or read a book about it. This knowledge will give you an edge over candidates who don't have this knowledge because you will understand the needs of your employer and how you can help them solve them. And if it turns out that you hate it, you just did yourself a favor by identifying the types of jobs you will NOT want to do.
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