8 Ways to Enhance Your CV & Career as a Student
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Be sure to check out all the episodes to get the answers to different career questions!
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Once you start searching for full-time jobs and put your CV together the time will come, where you ask yourself: What can I include? Which information is the most important?
Read on if you are looking for some actionable steps and answers that are guaranteed to make you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.
Many of my clients are international students who are looking to build a career in Germany. Whenever you are applying to vacancies, the most highly valued aspect of your CV is any type of practical experience in the field you are trying to get into. This has a higher value than a good University or even good grades. Therefore, it becomes important to gather as much experience as you can during your studies - ideally in the form of internships, thesis or Werkstudent positions.
In the pandemic time, getting a Werkstudent job or internships has become a little bit harder than usual, but let's not use this as an excuse! There are so many other things you can do to gain experience and this is what we are going to focus on in this article:
What are some less obvious, but equally relevant options worth your time?
You can become a freelancer, either in Germany or even in your home country! You can then reach out to startups or companies or even consultancies and offer your services. If you're wondering where you can find 'clients', I would refer you to my favourite platform - LinkedIn!
One of the best uses of social media business platforms such as LinkedIn is to find people who might be looking for your skills. You can also register on Freelancer platforms such as Fiverr, for example.
Potential Clients can then pick you on the platform to be hired as Freelancer for certain projects and for certain durations.
You can volunteer in any sort of organisation you identify with! Some social organisations that have to do with climate change, economical projects or similar, are always looking for engineers to support their projects, or people skilled in IT and programming to develop and monitor their platforms, etc.
You can even join voluntary organisations and still make use of your engineering skills.
Engineers without Borders etc are very popular among students!
Volunteering is a great addition to your CV as it shows developing your personal skills along with your engineering skills.
Part-time Jobs that are outside your field
In case volunteering is not an option because you want to make money on the side, you can also choose a part-time job that is outside your field, but where you learn other skills like communication or improving your German skill. This can be a job at local shops like the bakery or the supermarket, or even restaurants! I also used to be a waitress during my studies 🙂
I used to work for an exclusive catering company e.g. in stadiums or at concerts, which actually showed me that I can work really hard for long hours. It gave me confidence because I learned to communicate with so many different people and showed me that I am a strong and dedicated worker. It wasn't necessarily in the field I was trying to get into, but I met a lot of interesting people and even got to expand my English skills. I do believe all of this has helped me throughout my life!
Whichever work you choose, you can always gain other skills that are not necessarily directly related to the field - and develop all your soft skills.
Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Kaggle, edX: so many amazing platforms have come up where you can enhance your skills and knowledge, often for free!
Even YouTube Tutorials should be added to this list due to the immense value they add, simply for free.
Groups like Toast Masters help train your soft skills - discussing knowledge and sharing your thoughts and ideas in a group will give you a huge edge in a team meeting or a conference.
University groups such as Formula Student, Aerial Design, Robotics, 3D Printing, Development and Entrepreneurship, etc. are great sources to gather experience.
I can inform you first-hand that such experience is highly valued by Hiring Managers! Especially since the students showcase that they can deliver and complete projects with limited resources and strict deadlines - and learn a lot through it.
So, if you have the opportunity to join such an organisation, join one!
If you prefer to transfer your knowledge by putting your work out there in the comfort of your device (and not in large groups), you can always pick up Blogging, writing and demonstrating your expert knowledge and making it informative to others. This can even act as a Portfolio for your own/self-initiated projects in the future!
Apart from it being a first-hand resource for other people to learn from, if you can get enough traffic, you have the option to monetize it, too.
Universities could be looking for HiWis, lecturers for Bachelor Courses, Lab Managers, Examination Coordinators or even Website Managers and Developers! Make sure to ask around and ask at all sources: you never know where the treasure could be!
In case you cannot join any of the things I have mentioned above, you can always simply start your own technical projects out of your own interest.
This was actually a great question from one of my Podcast listeners: How can I showcase all of my individual projects in my CV, if I have a lot?
You will soon find another Blog entry where I'll try to answer this is in detail!
When it comes to choosing which idea is right for you, listen to the podcast or read this blog again (maybe bookmark it?) and see what rings a bell or makes you excited - and pick and execute that!
The idea that motivates you and gives you intrinsic motivation will be your best choice!
So, I hope you can harness the power of these ideas and enhance and empower your CV and career! Let me know if you think I have missed any, or if you have any questions about any of the ideas above.