Don’t procrastinate One common misconception is that your professional experience starts after college. This incorrect student career advice can and will cost future opportunities. Start looking for opportunities before you graduate. Don’t automatically default to those stereotypical “college student” or minimum wage jobs. Look for work related to your major. For example, journalism students could benefit from working in a print production plant. This provides an inside look at how the business functions. Accounting students may want to work as a receptionist at the local tax office. Art history majors could volunteer or do an internship at a local gallery.
Expand your knowledge Students learn multiple skills in college. Some are related to your career; others may seem less useful. Open your mind to those so-called “useless” skills. They may come in handy one day. But don’t stop there. The key is expansion. Expand your skills and knowledge. Companies look for team members with the ability to work in diverse settings. Look for courses that complement your major. Anthropology majors can take a few business courses to increase their marketability. Photography students may want to take a few graphic design or art classes to help improve creativity and their “eye” for art. Speak with your academic advisor for help selecting elective courses that complement your major.
Stay up-to-date While some entry-level careers are more competitive than others, all jobs require work and preparation. Staying current on technology and industry trends gives you an advantage over other applicants. Most students are more up-to-date with technology than seasoned professionals, giving them the upper hand. Those same students however show a lack of knowledge of industry trends. Visit your college library and read professional journals each month. These provide an in-depth look at the changing landscape inside your career and will help better prepare you for what’s to come. Google offers a news subscription, customizable to any search word or phrase. Set up an automated search and receive up-to-date news alerts in your inbox each month.
Pay attention in science and math class STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers represent one of the fastest-growing industries. Technology is booming, making it an oil field of wealth. While you don’t have to major in math or science to benefit from STEM revenue, learning the basics will help you understand this growing field and impress employers with your analytical side. Visit the science and math Dean’s office, and speak with a counselor. Explain to them you aren’t majoring in STEM but want to learn more about the field and gain analytical skills. They know the best classes to help you learn.
Don’t forget about those internships Internships are the lifeblood of the college experience. And rightly so. Nothing beats a hands-on education. Just be careful to select the right internship to help work towards your entry-level career. Academic advisors recommend forgoing those large, competitive internships during your first two years in college. Instead, put more energy into local, small business internships. These businesses need help and often offer more real-world education than those coffee-fetching, large company versions. Google a few local medium to small-sized companies in your field. Call their human resources department and inquire whether they accept interns and what are the qualifications. Don’t forget, your professors are your greatest allies. They probably know a few good companies who will give you a shot.