Career Tips for Terps

1. You aren’t married to your major.

I began as a computer science major, and eventually (and frustratingly) wound up with a communications degree. A far cry from what I thought I was going to earn at the end. But, you know what? It didn’t matter.

Sure, getting a degree was important to me and for my career, but what was written on my diploma didn’t limit my opportunities, because it was more about what I did with my skills than what I achieved.

My career took a fascinating number of twists and turns, and it was my passion that leads me to where I am today working at LinkedIn and Microsoft — not my degree. So, remember – don’t limit your future based on the words on your diploma. The opportunities are based on your passions and how to peruse them, and I’m confident you will be surprised where you end up.

2. Network your tail off.

Data suggests that the most common way developers found their most recent job was through a friend, family member or former colleague who told them about it. So, if you’re having trouble finding that job, don’t rely on just job posting boards, but work on developing a network of people who know you and what you’re capable of. They’re the easiest way to find a job.

Look for opportunities like internships. Magnus Mårtensson, CEO of Loftysoft suggests this route, he also notes that it’s really important to learn how to carry yourself the right way. Think of every professional you meet as a potential reference, good or bad. You’ll be amazed how being respectful, punctual, responsible and helpful will get you better opportunities.

3. Embrace learning.

Remember that learning is a lifelong process, which means that just because you have a degree, doesn’t mean you know it all. Read books (both fiction and non-fiction), find a mentor, and when employed and be sure to check out an online course.

4. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and resume.

Start out by writing a resume and LinkedIn profile that is keyword rich. Research words that are commonly used to describe the job you want and make sure those words are included in your Career Summary and Core Competency sections of your resume.

If the top 1/3 of your resume or LinkedIn profile is not keyword-rich, you might get screened out by a computer. 

5. Be open and don’t forget that values matter.

  • Learn to ask the right questions, rather than have the right answers.
  • Get in the habit of asking yourself: does this task or activity move me or my team forward?
  • Be open to, and seek out alternative perspectives.
  • Don’t let someone else define your value.
  • And above all else, while you are busy honing your technical skills, don’t forget to cultivate the behaviors and values that will most impact your success and those around you.

6. It’s okay to be wrong.

It’s alright to be wrong. You don’t have to be right all the time.

It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Ask questions and listen to other people and that’s how you learn and grow in your career.

7. Spend some time each week thinking strategically.

When you first start your job, it’ll take a while to get good at the basics of your new position. Most of your time will be spent learning those basics, so you can be trusted upon to do it consistently.

But spend some time each week – even if it is just 15 minutes – thinking “strategically” as well. That means thinking about what the true purpose of your job is and more effective ways to do it better. If you have a good idea, propose it to your boss.

Maybe they won’t do it – but it’ll show that you are thinking beyond your day-to-day tasks. This process will also help you better manage your own time too as it’ll help you prioritize what’s important.