Are you nearing the end of your studies and are anxious about finding a job once you’re finished? Maybe you have already accumulated several years of summer jobs, but still can’t get a call-back for an interview?
Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can improve your CV quickly by undertaking your first professional experiences.
Read on for some practical advice on how to make your CV more substantial – fast!
1- Complete an internship at a company
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, there are surprisingly very few programs of study that currently integrate internships into their curriculum. If you have the chance to gain experience through an internship, congratulations – you have an advantage over those who don’t.
Conversely, if you do not have an opportunity to complete one within your program, you can always send your CV to the organizations that interest you and mention your interest in an internship.
The other option is to apply with a company that offers non-paid internships. While controversial in Quebec, many companies in the United States offer unpaid internship programs. These are typically short-term placements (between three and six months) that offer a way to add some experience to your CV and build your professional network, unfortunately without pay. In some cases, students who complete an internship, whether paid or not, are subsequently offered a job with the company they interned with.
2- Accept a temporary employment contract
If you’re looking for a full-time, permanent position with a company, and balk at the idea of taking a temporary contract, you may want to reconsider.
If you have little experience, it may be a good idea to approach an employment agency that can direct you towards a job – even if it’s short term – that will help you bolster your CV and credibility. You may even have a chance to develop some new skills.
Many companies offer three to six-month contracts to support certain projects, or to replace employees on maternity leave. Depending on the offer at hand, you may not want to pass up the chance to get a foot in the door at a company and build your experience!
Also, don’t limit yourself with an extremely tight geographical boundary of where you want to work. Taking a job that’s a little further away may be worth the travel time, if it’s a good fit for you, and will open more doors. After all, it’s only a temporary job.
3- Participate in an international solidarity project
Maybe you’ve worked hard in school and, while you would love to find a job you enjoy, you’re also tempted by the desire to travel. Have you heard of the internships offered by Québec Sans Frontières (QSF)? This organization undertakes international projects that can extend from a few weeks to several months and are open to young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who live in Québec.
An internship with QSF will allow you to gain experience in the field while applying the skills you learned in school to real-world problems. In addition to demonstrating your ability to adapt to a new environment, these types of initiatives will help you develop a strong sense of teamwork. They also offer a chance to broaden your horizons, experience different cultures and enjoy unique and rewarding experiences abroad!
To learn more and get involved, you can check out the projects that QSF will undertake next year and submit your application here.
You’ll thank me later!
4- Participate in innovation or entrepreneurial contests
One great way to quickly add some work experience to your CV is by taking part in an entrepreneurial or innovation-focused contest. These initiatives all tend to operate in more or less the same fashion: participants submit an entrepreneurial project pitch that meets the criteria of the contest, and then develop and refine the project over several weeks, before presenting it to a selection committee.
Winners can take home a prize that will help them bring their project to completion. But even if you aren’t a finalist, simply taking part in such a contest can help you develop skills that will undoubtedly serve you well in your professional career. Being gutsy, perseverant, and determined can help you succeed in these types of contests – all qualities that you can put at the top of your CV once you complete your project.
Some examples of contests:
- Défi Ose entreprendre
- McGill Dobson Cup (This contest requires that teams include at least one McGill student or alumni.)
That’s right! We’ll never get tired of telling you that donating your time to support a cause you care about is an excellent way to develop professional experience.
When considering a volunteer position, try to take something that will help support you in achieving your professional goals. Any experience you gain in your chosen field will serve you well!
Not sure where to begin your search for a volunteer position? You can check out the list of organizations found on the Réseau d’action Bénévole du Québec.
When placed side-by-side with other candidates, you will certainly stand out with any of these valuable experiences on your CV.