Whether you are an incoming college freshman or a rising senior, thinking about your career is always important. You don’t want to stress too much about it, but it is a big reason why you’re going to school in the first place. Even if you may not know exactly what you want to do after school, you should still be thinking about it. Here are ten helpful ways to get prepared for life after college and to be able to achieve your career goals.
1. Gain the right experience.
Once you have your major selected, you’ll at least have a general idea of the field you want to enter, so you then need to gain more experience in that area. Try to land internship experience, whether it be over the summer when you have more time or while you’re in school. If it’s too late to get an internship, or you just don’t qualify yet, there are other options for you. You could also try gaining a temporary position, which is another great way to get exposure to a professional environment and explore your field of interest. Either of these ways will give you experience in your field, as well as help to build yourself as a more qualified candidate.
2. Build a strong resume.
There are plenty of tools right at your fingertips to create a professional resume (including our blog post on free resume tools- read it here!). You can also do your own research of example resumes and tips that have worked for others in your field. Most schools will have career services available so be sure to utilize it as much as you can, as they will most likely have cover letter advice as well.
3. Attend networking events.
Exposing yourself to networking events early is great practice, and a way to meet various professionals with different jobs. Networking events are always occurring, you just need to find the right one for you. Once you find one you want to attend, make sure to come prepared with your resume or a business card, just in case you meet a recruiter that has a role for you.
4. Create your LinkedIn profile.
Do you already have a LinkedIn profile set up? If you are new to LinkedIn, it’s crucial to build a strong profile that is sure to grab the attention of recruiters. If you do already have one, there may be ways that you can still make improvements, especially with its most recent updates. Your profile can also come in handy at networking events, as later, you can always connect on LinkedIn with those you speak with.
5. Practice your elevator speech.
An elevator speech is a formal introduction typically used when meeting someone new or addressing a potential employer. Your pitch is an easy way for an employer to get a quick glance at who you are and what your future plans are. Preparing an elevator speech is extremely useful in many settings, especially at a networking event or during the first few minutes of an interview. Always practice your pitch. It will make it easier to say at the right time and it will help to calm your nerves as you showcase your career goals.
6. Keep up with your studies.
Doing well in school is very important when searching for jobs. Different industries may have various GPA requirements, and maintaining your GPA is a way to put yourself ahead of other candidates. Experience is an important factor when searching for a future employee, however good grades will help to boost your potential as well.
7. Read books that relate to your academic interests.
While obtaining a degree, you’re bound to have required reading. However, it’s important to further enhance your knowledge by finding the right books to read outside of your classwork. If you are swamped during the week with classes, try to find some down time over the weekend, and especially during the summer. Here are some examples of books that might interest you:
8. Sign up for classes to narrow down your career search.
Fall course sign ups typically occur throughout the summer, so make sure you do your research early and see what classes your school will have to offer next semester. Really take some time to explore the course list and take classes that not only interest you, but will also help you navigate your career path.
9. Participate in extracurricular activities.
In addition to your studies, it’s also important to take part in your campus community and activities. Employers will want to see that you did something else at school besides just study. So look for a club that sparks your interest and get involved. This is always a great way to build on your network, add new types of experience to your skillset, and even achieve a leadership position.
10. Take part in activities outside of your school.
You can also take part in activities off your campus setting. There are lots of opportunities to get started with, whether it be through a club or something you do on your own. Volunteering is an excellent way to help your community, as well as add experience to your resume. It is important for employees to see that you are a well-rounded student, and it shows how you spend some of your free time.
If you work hard and set future goals, you will be in good shape after graduation. Finding your dream job or your career path is a tough process, but if you start the preparation as early as you can, it will have you headed in the right direction.
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