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5 tips for getting your foot in the door of any industry

Being in and around sports most of your life, you are likely an active person. But in terms of your career, what steps are you taking to be the professional you want to be? What are you doing to build and maintain an active resume — not just a current one, but a resume that demonstrates interest and commitment to your chosen profession?

In the course of a month, most people have five hours of personal energy — often used watching television, texting or surfing the internet — to redirect to the care and feeding of one’s career. June Price-Shingles, a professor, director of the undergraduate recreation administration program and faculty athletics representative at Chicago State, is passionate about helping students pursue professional development while in college — a critical step in helping to prepare for life after college, she says. Price-Shingles offers five ways you can set yourself apart from the competition no matter the industry or career stage:

Get involved in your profession’s association

Every industry has a membership-based association, whether it be on a regional, state, national or international level. “Find out what associations serve your industry and where and how members connect with one another,” Price-Shingles recommends, “and get involved.” Many associations offer free or low-cost dues and learning opportunities for students and newcomers to the profession. Whether it’s a face-to-face workshop at the local association office, a webinar or a conference, do some type of industry-specific professional development twice a year.

Stay on top of industry trends

Be conversational on recent happenings, key research findings and trends in your industry. Hiring managers will take notice. Read trade journals, listen to industry-specific podcasts and follow subject matter experts’ blogs. Don’t let fees deter you in your quest to stay current. Subscribe to the free publications and check out career-specific magazines and journals at your local library.

Diversify your experience

When seeking opportunities to establish or advance your career, give the same intensity to your career that you applied to training and competing in sports. Ask yourself: What personal and professional experiences will set me apart from job seekers who also earned a degree in my field? “Your goal is to get your resume into that second pile, and that’s only going to happen if you can demonstrate that you have amassed a variety of industry-specific experiences, even if you aren’t yet working in that industry,” Price-Shingles says.

Add a certification to your professional tool belt

Beyond your academic degree, professional certifications are readily available in most industries. Whether it be specialized training to build and enhance on-the-job skills or honing soft skills applicable in the workplace such as leadership and project management, earning a certificate demonstrates you are serious about your career.

Volunteer

One way to get the job you want is to be in that atmosphere. “Through a professional association, volunteering alongside more experienced professionals is intentionally placing yourself in that space where you gain confidence, get comfortable with your speaking voice and make valuable connections that simply cannot happen via social media,” Price-Shingles says. Once an initial contact has been established, it’s easier to reconnect.

About the expert

June N. Price-Shingles

June N. Price-Shingles is a professor, faculty athletics representative and director of the undergraduate recreation administration program at Chicago State University. Price-Shingles earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation management and master’s degree in workforce education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She holds a Doctor of Education with an emphasis on child, youth and family studies from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.