By: Peer Career Coach Devyani Gauri
In the middle of the semester, when students are barely floating in the ocean of assignments, projects and exams, we tend to forget the importance of our careers, which is the reason why most people enroll in Colleges and Universities. The goal of finding an internship or a job is always on our mind. However, we don’t really do anything about it until it is Career Fair time and we really have to.
What is a Habit?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a habit as “a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior”. We’ve always been told about the importance of building habits and maintaining them. However, most people have never taken classes on habit building, and it is very hard to fit something in the routine we’ve had for years. It is even more difficult for students because our routines are rarely ever set in stone. There are always new events popping up, along with assignments and social opportunities we cannot miss out on.
So how do we get better at building a career for ourselves when we don’t have the time?
The first step is to realize that we all have mini routines we follow throughout the day, no matter how crazy classes may seem. We all have habits we’ve built up over time but have never recognized them as such. They seem so mundane that we forget they exist, like combing our hair before we leave the room every morning or brushing our teeth before sleeping every night.
The key to building new habits is to make them so convenient that we don’t have to think of them as something strenuous. Things that become so routine that we stop actively noticing them are the habits we have, and these habits can be productive. Connecting the habits we want to form with things we already do daily can help with this.
Career Development as a Habit
- Job search: Job search can be a full-time job in itself, and there is barely anything we can do to make it easier on us. However, making it a mini habit can be helpful. Commit to applying to 1 or 2 jobs every day, and it will make the job search a lot easier
- Events: There are always opportunities for students to attend networking events, conferences and Career Fairs. Replacing one social event every month with a career related event that allows you to build your network and learn about new opportunities can make a big difference.
- Skill Development: Instead of spending many hours trying to develop a new skill you want to or need to learn while struggling with assignments, set aside an hour every weekend to dedicate solely to practicing or developing a skill.
- Interview prep: Interview prep can be hard but looking at 1 interview question every day (behavioral or technical) can help prepare for interviews without being overwhelmed.
- Networking: Connecting with people can be hard if you’re not used to it and networking online can be even harder. Taking out time to connect with alumni on LinkedIn or The Bridge (For Illinois Tech students) can be very advantageous. Checking LinkedIn once a day just like all our other social media can work in our favor as well.
Since LinkedIn is not meant to be as formal as emails, make sure that you don’t just connect with someone because you want a job, talk to people about similar interests you might share, and make a real connection. Networking is not all about finding jobs- it is also being surrounded by like-minded people that can help you grow and finding people you can collaborate with.
Taking out 15 minutes a day to make your transition into the industry easier shouldn’t seem strenuous, it should be a habit.