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Bridging the gap between university and your dream job

A proper university experience is not just about your exam grades and class attendance In fact these things are relatively meaningless compared to how well you are prepared to face real-world challenges of a highly-skilled job. Showing a potential employer that you have had professional, volunteer or extracurricular experience as well as being a strong student will give you a leg up on the competition regardless of what job you want.

As can be seen in the resumes of Lift’s many students of the week, an expanding and highly competitive job market is encouraging students to build up a variety of skills through academic programmes and involvement with organisations at home and abroad.

“People who have knowledge gained from experiences outside of the classroom are more likely to get a staff position,” said Mr. Moeun Morn, Director of Workforce Resource Training Organization (WRTO). Here are five ways to make sure your CV continues to improve after you leave school.

Volunteering
Although volunteer work is seen by some as a waste of time, money, and energy, organizations who accept volunteers provide a great opportunity for high school and university students as well as recent graduates and young professionals. You may not have the skills to get your ideal job yet, but if you choose the right volunteering opportunity you can still get related experience with professionals in the field. Even if you volunteer in a field unrelated to your career, you can say that you are familiar with a working environment and experienced in networking with people in a professional setting.

“It really works because employers want to see the experience and positive attitude that we can express through volunteering,” said Song Dapisei, a freshman at the Institute of Foreign Languages.

Part-time jobs
As the rising number of jobs in various industries has paralleled the growth of Cambodia’s economy, there is now a much greater demand for friendly and competent employees. As a poor and busy university student, a part-time job can provide much-needed financial resources. Although your academic record will not be improved, a recommendation from your employer will show that you can get the job done.

“I understand other types of work and know what kind of job I am looking for,” said Rem Chandara, an agricultural science student who works in public relations for Organization Development Institution (ODI), adding that making connections in various industries is a good way to build up your professional network.

Suy Sokha, recruitment consultant at HR Inc, claimed that it is not a problem if students find work that is unrelated to their degree because oftentimes people select majors before they really know what they want to study.

“Through part-time jobs, internships and volunteering, students can discover their own talents and abilities,” he said.

Working in one particular place does not mean that you can only learn about one job; you will have daily interactions with a variety of people with expertise in various fields.

Training courses
Training courses also offer wide variety of extra subjects for students who wish to increase their own capacity as well as general knowledge.

Sim Sophearith, an IT student at RUPP and WRTO said “Since RUPP does not provide me with 3D Design class and my goal is to be a 3D Designer, I went to WRTO to take a course on 3D cartoon drawing.”

Start up your own enterprise
Operating a business is another way step towards success for students with the ability to generate bright ideas. If you can manage a small project or spearhead the launch of a new product, it guarantees employers that you will bring energy and experience to the table.

“I used to work for a company, but I felt like creating my own business because I can provide work for other people and I do not have to depend on a salary,” said Him Chorvan, who is running a small design company called Emerald Studio.

Extracurriculars
There are other activities that graduates can do to show initiative and intellectual prowess; projects such as forming a club or association, attending workshops, academic competitions or undertaking exploratory or entrepreneurial ventures which give employers a better sense of your interests and dedication.

The time immediately after graduation can feel quite strange as university students suddenly have to suddenly shift into work mode. Students quickly realize that you have to chase down the job you want, it is not going to come to you. Success during this period is reliant on the determination of each individual, the passion that they have and their ability to quickly recover from failure.

Be optimistic about the job market and continue to improve your CV as you work to find the professional match you are looking for.

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