I still remember how clueless I was when I first got into university. As soon as I figured out internship is very important, I started sent out cold, physical letters to all banks that are on Hong Kong Monetary Authority's list. Surprisingly, I did get some interviews. That experience was precisely why I felt so strongly when first year students approaching me with the same question, "What should I do now in order to get a good job?"
Here are my answers:
1: Don't screw up your GPA. 3.3 is still fine (or 3.0 in some school given different grading pattern), but if you get lower than that you will have a hard time to get selected by the school in nomination for scholarship, internship and exchange. As a junior student, you rely a lot on school since relatively more opportunities are sourced by school. For school staff, the easiest way to screen out thousands of students is academic result.
2: If you don't have major leadership experience in high school, target some good clubs or societies to affliate with. If you can get a leadership role like president, it's great since you will pick up leadership. If not, work in the team is good too since teamwork is also an important competence. If 1 year is too long a commitment, try to get involve in project-based committees (i.e. organizing committee for large scale event). It's even more cost effective
3: Start networking and building relationship with some talented and motivated students who share the same vision. I don't want to sound too aggressive here as if you only make friends with the smart kids, not at all. But at least you need to have a dream team to partner with in projects, case competitions, or exchange information.
4: Plan for exchange as early as you can to realize the benefit of having international exposure as early as possible in your university career. A good brand on your CV usually brings you good internship opportunities.
5: Log in jijis.org.hk and make it a habit to check in. You can log in to Facebook everyday therefore I am sure it's not too hard to log in to Jijis. Start browsing the job offerings and google the companies and industries if you have no idea what it is about. Don't wait for summer to put work experience in your CV, do it through part-time job during the academic year. If you are based in Hong Kong, this is the area that no US or UK students can compete with you, since it is during the academic year where you physically locate here, not them.
Last but not least, it is a mindset that you need to establish. "One thing leads to another" applies to CV and career planning accurately. When you apply to a job, don't be too picky at the very beginning. I sent cold letters to 100+ companies in my freshman year. It might not be a good item on CV during your final year, but it could serve you well as a first real working experience on your CV which might leads you to some better opportunities later on. Few internships later, you will have a completely different CV. Ask any final year student, you can't recognize a thing when you compare their current CV and 3 years old CV.
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