Career Building Suggestions for College Students
No matter how fun, exciting, and unique the college experience may be, in the long run, it is a preparatory phase for what happens afterward. Most students go to college not for the experience per se, but to build a successful career after they graduate. While you are still in college, your future professional life may look a long way away; but it is never too early to start thinking about it, and the earlier you start applying effort to moving in a particular direction, the more likely you are to end where you want to be. So, what should you do while in college? How can you lay a foundation for a future professional life?
1. The Earlier You Start, the Better
While it is alright to spend your freshman and sophomore years exploring different opportunities, pursuing your personal interests, and settling on a major, you should start making some plans and arrangements by your third year in college at the very latest. Your research and self-exploration over the first two years may help you here – you will get a better understanding of what interests you, what may not be the best choice, and so on. Start exploring career opportunities related to your areas of interest as well as looking for internship opportunities that can help you acquire the necessary real-world experience.
2. Choose Your Extracurricular Activities Wisely
Extracurricular activities are not just a way to spend free time and pursue your interests; they can greatly help you when it comes to looking for a job. Simply listing certain activities on your resume can be a huge advantage, and others help you develop certain much-needed skills. For example, team sports teach you about teamwork and problem solving, theatricals improve your people skills and so on. Finally, the very fact of balancing out your studies and extracurricular activities forces you to develop time-management skills that will certainly come in handy in ever-busy professional life.
3. Keep Working on Your Resume
A resume is not something you sit down and write when you first start looking for a “real” job. Ideally, you should start working on it when still in high school – it will give you perspective on your current situation and what you have to do to improve it. After that, edit it every time you have something to add and keep editing for the duration of your professional life because you never know when you may need to move on. At first, you may want to list all your summer jobs during high school as well as volunteering you may have participated in, but as your list of achievements expands, you may start removing elements that are less interesting for a potential employer.
4. Don’t Slack off During Summer
Ideally, you should try to land a summer internship relevant to your chosen career path. However, even if you fail to do so, there are many other ways to move towards your goals. A part-time job in a field that interests you may not earn you internship credits, but it is still a source of experience and a good entry in your resume. A job that improves one’s people skills, for example, can be useful no matter what career path you choose. Simply talking to professionals from the relevant fields can gain you insights into what you should do to improve your qualifications. In other words, don’t waste your time and constantly think of how you may progress towards your intended position.
5. Make Use of the College Career Center
When asked whether they use the services of their college’s career center, many students dismiss it outright. However, if you take your time to learn about everything it has to offer, you will realize that it is a treasure-trove of information, advice, and assistance you have available for free as long as you are a student of the college in question. Here you can get info on where and how to build up necessary connections, how to write and edit resumes, how to prepare to and behave during an interview, where and how to look for internships, and much more. In other words, if you have never been to your college career center, it is high time you rectify this omission.
One may ask, “How am I supposed to be doing all these when I have so much work? I seem to spend my every waking hour writing essays, preparing for exams, attending lectures, working part-time jobs, and more”. Well, you should learn to manage your time and delegate some responsibilities. For example, editing a paper after you have written it always takes a huge amount of time, but you are not technically obliged to do it. You can find plenty of research paper editing services that can take this load off your shoulders. The same goes for many other time-intensive activities in college. Be ingenious, and you will find time for everything.
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