After speaking with students at the Career Showdown in January, I noticed that most of those I spoke with were pretty nervous about their career prospects after graduation.
One of the great things about this industry is the employment rate. Something I was glad to say when people asked me what I was going to be with a degree in Food Science was “employed”.
It’s easy to be down on yourself if you don’t think you have enough work experience before you graduate or you’re not in co-op.
Here is some of my best advice for job searching when you don’t have a lot of relevant work experience.
1. Be Creative in Your Search
If you’re not in a co-op program but you’re looking for co-op type positions, they’re available to you. Co-op/Internship/student jobs are posted in more locations than just traditional school job boards.
Other food industry job boards will often have them posted as well. If you’re looking into a position that would overlap with a regular school term (If you’re in school) then speak with your program councillor. You may be able to rearrange some courses.
2. Just Because it’s not Related Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Use It
Do you have any work experience at all? If you do then use it to your advantage. Examine your past experiences for transferable skills. Have you worked in Food Service (Restaurants, Fast Food)? Then you’ve likely developed teamwork skills and have worked under pressure. Have you worked in retail?
They you’ve developed interpersonal and problem solving skills. Most jobs you may have had up to this point will have given you transferable skills. It’s all about how you frame it. The way you describe your work experience on a resume or in a cover letter can determine which skills a prospective employer thinks that you’ve gained.
3. Not Enough Experience for Your Dream Job? Don’t Give up!
I’ve met a lot of students who wanted to work in Product Development after graduation and it reminded me of myself. When I graduated I found it more difficult to find entry level Product Development jobs than other positions. Most asked for 3-5 years of experience, which I didn’t have, but I didn’t give up.
What I knew was important for me to get that PD job was developing my skills and getting experience. So my advice to you if you find yourself in the same situation is to look at job postings differently. Who is the company you’re applying to? Could you see yourself working there? What skills could you develop at this job? Will this job help you move closer to your dream job?
Be open to applying to jobs that may not be your dream job if you could see it helping you in the long run.
4. Be Open to Contract Positions
I don’t think that enough people are talking about contract positions as an option for new graduates. Though the end goal for most is a full time position, a contract isn’t a bad place to start. In a nutshell, a contact position allows you to do the work you would be doing in a full time position but for a defined period of time.
In certain instances, they can lead to full time positions. These positions are a great way to gain experience in a lower risk way. If after your contract you’d like to find a new job, you’re able to without worrying about any hurt feelings. During this time it’s likely you’ve done some networking with your coworkers and can get a good reference.
Though it’s easier to find a job after graduating when you have related work experience, it’s not as difficult as you’d think to find one without it.
Author: Faith Baxter
As a recent graduate of the Food Science Co-op program at the University of Guelph, Faith understands the difficulties associated with transitioning from education to the workplace. She has had the opportunity to speak about these issues at various industry events with the goal of easing the transition of others. Passionate about education and the industry, she is involved with the Taste Your Future campaign to increase awareness of opportunities in the Food and Beverage industry among Canadians.
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