How to Balance Studying and Looking for Internships

Study or Job-hunting, which one is more important?

At the beginning of each semester, the busy study life of all the students begins. Classes, homework, various quizzes, exams, experiments by students of science and engineering, and then catch up with a more intense class and various group projects, presentations, how can there be enough time for students to find a job?!

Don’t worry, we are in the same boat. I believe everyone understands that, on the one hand, we study hard to learn more professional knowledge, so as to lay a good foundation for future work in society. On the other hand, having the highest GPA is to highlight our competitive advantage when we are looking for a job. However, in addition to have professional knowledge and the highest GPA, we also need to master more soft skills. So, I would like to remind students who are going to enter the university: homework and exams are all have deadlines, and we need to complete them before the deadline. However, looking for a job is a long-term process. It seems as though there is no deadline. In fact, the preparation for looking for a job is enormous, and there is no one to supervise and guide, and there is no peer pressure. Therefore, many students have been procrastinating on finding a job until they are about to graduate and feel that it is too late to find a job, and they regret not starting to prepare earlier.

Both of them are important. How should I allocate time?

If you are currently in the middle and late stages of looking for a job and need to do a lot of preparation work. Then you can count the job hunting as 9-12 credits. So, if you have three or four 3-credit courses in a semester, the allocation ratio between job-hunting and study is half and half.

At the same time, I also want to remind everyone to avoid a common misunderstanding in the process of studying and job hunting by international students. You may have heard that East Asian exam-oriented education makes students and their parents extremely value grade. Many students from East Asia feel that as long as they have a high GPA score, they will definitely be able to find a good job in the future. This misunderstanding caused many of these students to start looking for a job until graduation, but found that many things were not ready and feel regretted about it. This is why I think students should strive for the best GPA within their abilities, instead of spending all their time and energy on improving GPA.

Let me give you an example if you already have a GPA of 3.9. But you don’t have any student organization and internship experience, so should you continue to spend your time improving your GPA from 3.9 to 4.0? Or do you spend the same amount of time to increase your club activities and work-related experience? At the same time, we can imagine that a Hiring Manager chooses one candidate among the two Candidates of “4.0 GPA + no relevant work experience” vs. “3.9 GPA + relevant experience”. Who will she choose? The answer is obvious, with a 99% probability that she will choose the second person. There are two reasons: First, the 3.9 GPA is enough to prove the learning ability of the second candidate. Second, his related work experience will increase competitiveness and let the company know that this candidate is not only strong in academic, but also trustworthy in workability.

The time required for career planning, get to know the industry, and interviews are different for every student. If you start planning during your freshman year, then you will have plenty of time to understand and experience the process. But if you are about to graduate from undergraduate or graduate school and need to get a job as soon as possible, then you need to speed up the progress, plan and prepare while executing. So, everyone should arrange their time reasonably, know your weaknesses, spend your time on the right thing, and focus on improving!

In addition, for those students who are currently at the job-hunting stage, please check out my other three blogs about job-hunting, Helpful Career WebsitesHow to Create a LinkedIn Profile for Networking and 4 Strategies to Become the Right Person in Recruiters’ Eyes. I hope these blogs can help you. Finally, I wish you all the best in your studies and job-hunting.

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