In today’s job market, the more you know, the better. With more entry- to mid-level jobs requiring a master’s degree, many are finding that simply holding a bachelor’s degree just isn’t enough. While going straight to graduate school might be the likely alternative for some, many pursue jobs right out of graduation in order to survive financially. If you’re stepping out into the job market with your bachelor’s in hand, consider these strategies to help you beef up your knowledge and propel your career success:
Get certified. Consider enrolling in a training course or certification program for your desired career. Specialized training and certification programs usually last between six to 12 weeks and cost a couple hundred dollars per course. Most colleges and universities offer continuing education courses that will give you in-depth knowledge on a particular subject matter. Certification courses are offered in almost every area of expertise, such as social media networking, advanced accounting, animation, and global affairs. As a less time consuming, yet more affordable commitment, specialized training and certification courses are a great way to enhance your resume and qualifications.
Become an intern. Internships, fellowships, and other on-the-job training opportunities are an excellent approach to gaining practical work experience. The problem that most undergraduates face is that they have a degree, yet no experience in their desired field. Those who go straight to graduate school often face this same challenge. In addition to gaining experience, internships and fellowships also allow you to determine whether or not you’ll actually enjoy working in your chosen industry. Internships look great on your resume and if you perform well, can often lead to a full-time position with that employer.
Secure a side hustle. If a bachelor’s degree isn’t getting you the salary you need, and grad school isn’t in your immediate future, consider generating your own streams of additional income. Identify your special skill, passion or interest, and turn it into a revenue-generating hobby. It could be your love for baking, your ability to successfully plan events, or your knowledge of computers. Find your niche, learn as much as you can about your craft, and begin offering your services. If you have a particular area of expertise, you may even want to consider becoming a consultant. You’d be surprised at the boost a side hustle can give your career and your bank account.
Join professional organizations. Becoming affiliated with professional organizations is one of the best ways to network, learn, and grow in your career. Organizations such as the National Association for African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) offer strong connections for professionals in their particular industries. The annual fees vary but are well worth the professional development opportunities that most members experience. When trying to advance your career, it’s important that you establish and maintain lasting professional relationships. These types of organizations are a great way to get connected.
Be willing to relocate. With only a bachelor’s degree under your belt, it’s wise not to limit your job search to just one city, state, or even country. Since so many companies are sending their workforces overseas or to less costly states, it’s important that you keep your options open when searching. Young professionals are usually in a better position to make such relocations because they don’t often have the responsibilities of a spouse or children. A bachelor’s degree faces less competition in some rural or underdeveloped cities, and as a result might make it easier to find employment. In highly populated urban cities like Los Angeles and New York, where it seems like everyone has a bachelor’s degree, it’s a lot more difficult to compete.
Aisha Taylor (@realTAYLORmade) is co-owner and chief consultant at TAYLORmade Professional Career Consulting, a Web-based, full-service career consulting company committed to “equipping, preparing, and empowering today’s professional” globally. Check out her weekly insights on job-seeking and interviewing success every Friday on BlackEnterprise.com.