So, you’re a recent graduate from an international business program and you are about to embark on the exciting journey of your global trade career. Where do you start? Who can you ask for help? And ultimately, how do you land that dream job?
Being a new grad with little professional experience in an often competitive, sometimes brutal job market can be scary. But fear not: there are some tried and tested ways for you to put your best foot forward and find the job you’ve wanted since your first day of studying.
1. Network like crazy
This has to be number one because many would argue it’s the most important, useful step you can take to land the job opportunities you’re after. In the business world, and particularly the global business world, having a large network of fellow professionals can open doors you couldn’t even imagine. They key is to be prepared, present your best self, and don’t be shy.
As someone new to the business world, professional networking can seem pretty daunting. However, the effort you put into networking can pay off big time in job offers, good advice and mentorship. A survey taken by Connect Us Canada found that 70% of respondents had experienced an increase in job opportunities as a result of networking.
As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. You can alleviate some of the jitters by preparing an elevator speech before attending an event, so that you don’t stumble over introductions. Remember to present relevant details about yourself, project the value of what you do, and be clear about your career goals.
The attitude you present will make a big difference, so make sure you listen attentively and don’t just ask for things, but also look for opportunities to help. You never know who you might meet or how they could play into your professional future.
2. Find a mentor
No matter what stage of your career you find yourself in, a mentor can be beneficial. Mentors are the people who are more wise, experienced and knowledgeable in your field and can pass that wisdom on to you to help you progress in your career.
A good mentor will connect you to their professional network, help you gain knowledge and experience, push you to think differently and try new things, and be a test audience for your thoughts and ideas. Perhaps most importantly, they can help you prepare for the realities of the day-to-day challenges you’ll experience on the job in global trade.
There will inevitably be things that even the best, most comprehensive courses and training programs can’t fully prepare you for: the best ways to travel to different regions, intricate cultural details, the daily challenges of running your own business, or what to say to get yourself out of trouble in any number of scenarios. This is where the authentic personal experiences of a mentor who has spent more time working in global business than you can really be of value to you.
So where do you find a mentor? There are a number of places these wonderful people hang out: networking events, LinkedIn groups, Meetup groups, membership directories, mentorship programs, with other people you’re already connected to (word of mouth). Put the word out there and meet your mentor today!
3. Consider your credentials
You’re a graduate, so chances are you are possess a diploma, certificate, or degree of some sort, and that’s a great start. But in today’s increasingly competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. Improving your credibility and confidence through an advanced level of certification or targeted designation has been proven to help those new to a profession find work.
Whether it’s a course or two, or a world-recognized professional designation, taking the time to do some research and find something you can add to your resume from the get-go can be just what you need to impress a recruiter and land your dream job.
“I had an interview with the National Bank of Canada for a Manager of International Trade position. My problem was that I didn’t have any banking experience, and banks rarely hire people who don’t. During the interview, however, I drew a lot from the FITTskills courses I took and it made a real impression on the interviewer.”
I got the job, and since I didn’t have that experience, I think that the FITTskills courses made the difference. Abdel Azzouzi, CITP|FIBP
As a bonus, many training programs are available online as well, offering you the flexibility to complete course work at your own pace, while working full-time or juggling other commitments.
4. Land an Internship
Apply for every relevant internship opportunity you can get your hands on. The benefits of interning at a company in your field are plentiful.
What if I told you, you could:
- Get hands-on job experience in international business?
- Develop in-demand skills?
- Explore your professional interests?
- Get a chance to travel?
- Learn from your more experienced colleagues?
- Make valuable contacts and gain references?
- Start building a professional portfolio?
- And boost your starting salary?
In return, all you would need to do is work your tail off, do some “menial” tasks, take some constructive criticism, think outside the box and offer a fresh perspective, be on time, listen and learn, and constantly strive to go above and beyond.
THE best way to jump start your career in global trade is to take on an internship, hands down.
There are many opportunities out there for the go-getters among you. Here are some options to get started:
- EDC Internship Program
- EDC-FITT Internship
- International Internships:
- United States Trade Representative Internship Program
- Global Affairs Canada International Youth Internship Program
You can also explore FITT’s regularly updated job postings and search for “Internships” to find the latest opportunities.
5. Put yourself out there
For many people new to their field, or to the professional world in general, knowing how to get started is difficult, confusing and intimidating. You know the saying “good things come to those who wait”? Well, it doesn’t really apply to job hunting.
If you’re looking for employment, you need to put yourself out there. You should do this not only in all of the ways mentioned in tips 1-4, but also in some of the less obvious ways that can really help you make an impression in an interview and separate you from the herd.
First things first, never stop learning. Seek articles, forums, courses, books, Twitter chats, anything you can find to immerse yourself in the latest issues, news and best practices of global business.
Be on the lookout for learning experiences. If you get the chance to work or travel abroad, take it. Learning about another culture and doing work in another country can give you a serious leg-up in the global business industry.
Share your voice. Get on social media, blogs, write editorials, any platform you prefer where your fellow professionals can see who you are, what you’re passionate about, and why you would be an asset to their business.
And finally, don’t be afraid to fail. Rejection hurts, but it’s a part of adult life. Not getting the first job you interview for is not something that should shake your confidence. Every effort you put out there is a learning experience. So don’t let yourself get discouraged, the right opportunity is out there for you. You’ve got the whole world in front of you.