20 Jun

Preparing For Your Career While Still In College

Blog No Comments by Mareisha Winters

Preparing For Your Career While Still In CollegeMaybe you just graduated from college, or you will be graduating soon…this can be a scary time in life. You might be starting your first job, still looking for a job, or you may be planning to continue your education. Whatever the case may be, the real learning starts now. This month at LTAW we will be giving tips for recent college graduates and soon-to-be college graduates.

When you’re in college don’t put off thinking about your career until your senior year. Your future job should be at the forefront of your mind during your entire college career. Of course by choosing a major you have already put some thought into what you want to “be when you grow up”. But it shouldn’t stop there. There are several things steps you can take while in school to help you get ready for your career after graduation.

Take relevant coursework. The coursework you take is probably the most obvious way you can prepare for your career after college. Whenever possible you should associate your assignments with future work. The electives you decide to take will depend on what direction you plan to go after graduation – choose them wisely.  If you’re a freshman and not sure what you want to do yet, that is OK. Many schools do not require that you declare a major right away. Do some research to figure out what occupation is the best fit for your interests, strengths and weaknesses.

Network, network, network. Networking is extremely important. You can find out whether a particular job is right for you by talking to people who are currently doing that job or who have done it in the past. Be strategic about who’s in your network. You can build your network by getting involved in professional organizations, getting to know your professors and by asking your career counselor to introduce you to someone within your field of interest.

Be an intern. Internships are one of the best ways to apply what you learned through your coursework to real world situations. They also allow you to “test drive” a particular career field and company, and increase your network. (See last week’s post: Internships – Why Bother?) Internships look great on your resume and can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for full time jobs after graduation.

Make the career center your second home.  Most colleges and universities have career centers for students. They are a great resource. Many students make the mistake of either not using the dedicated career counseling staff or waiting until the last minute (second semester of senior year) to seek help. Visit the career center during your first semester of college. It’s not too soon. And don’t be a stranger, visit the center regularly until graduation. If you are unsure of what you want to do career wise, they have several assessment tools that can help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses and what occupation would be a good fit. They also offer career counseling, assistance with resume writing, opportunities to meet with recruiters for internships and permanent jobs, and career related workshops and seminars.

Your college years offer a great opportunity to network, build skills, and get experiences for your future. If you take advantage of this opportunity, you will give yourself the upper hand over the many other college students who will be competing for the same jobs upon graduation.

You’re Graduating…Now the Real Learning Begins!

 

17 Jun

What’s Next: Work or Grad School?

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

Work or Grad School?Maybe you just graduated from college, or you will be graduating soon…this can be a scary time in life. You might be starting your first job, still looking for a job, or you may be planning to continue your education. Whatever the case may be, the real learning starts now. This month at LTAW we will be giving tips for recent college graduates and soon-to-be college graduates.

Today’s college graduates often struggle with the decision to either enter directly into the workforce or apply to grad school. The answer to this question may be more complex than it seems and the consequences could come with a price.

The fact that you’re reading a blog post about it, is a sign that you are approaching this question the best way possible; with an understanding that it is not something that can be decided on a whim and should take some careful thought and consideration. As a recipient of two graduate degrees who also spent several years working (both simultaneously and in between degrees), I have seen firsthand the costs and benefits of the working-versus-grad-school conundrum.

My personal advice to a recent graduate deciding between work and more school is: it depends. And it depends on a lot. First, I’m a big proponent of formal education and the benefits of academic training, but a lot has changed in the decade since I first graduated college. The advice I received, almost unquestionably, was to “go directly into graduate school because if you started working you will never go back.” This advice loses a lot of its luster in the face of the rising student debt crisis, exponentially higher tuition costs, and the shifting percentage of graduates who cannot find suitable work.

For some graduates, the decision to enter grad school is a no-brainer. If your desired profession requires a graduate degree before entry or the prospects of advancement is impossible without one, then your decision is already made. For the countless other graduates who do not have a clear idea yet of their career path, graduate school is not the safe “waiting place” that it once was. Although enrollment numbers increase in down economic times, many graduate school students will suffer severe financial consequences if they do not weigh all of their options.  If you are still unsure of your career goals, I suggest taking several years to gain valuable work experience until you figure it out. Doing so increases your chances of networking with like-minded professionals, gaining on the job training, finding tuition reimbursement programs, or the invaluable time to narrow your career goals. In fact, many career professionals agree that a pro-active, experience driven approach to graduate studies is the distinguishing characteristic between successful and unsuccessful grad students.

Statistically, graduates of all levels fair better than their non-graduate counterparts. But, those numbers are starting to shift in significant ways. For example, there is initial research indicating that half of some sector of STEM careers do not have advanced degrees, but technical on the job training certificates. Another important factor is the specific graduate degree in question. The salary difference for a PhD in humanities versus a person without one is much less than the gap between those with and without degrees in the medical field or sciences. Add to these figures the risk of being over qualified or having the wrong degree upon graduation, and the need to weigh the decision of graduate school becomes more apparent.

Ultimately, the answer to this question will be different for every person and depend on a myriad of factors, but the fact remains; it is a decision that is more complex and costly than in the past. So do your research and good luck!

You’re Graduating…Now the Real Learning Begins!

13 Jun

Internships – Why Bother?

Blog No Comments by Susan McCuistion

Internships – Why Bother?Maybe you just graduated from college, or you will be graduating soon…this can be a scary time in life. You might be starting your first job, still looking for a job, or you may be planning to continue your education. Whatever the case may be, the real learning starts now. This month at LTAW we will be giving tips for recent college graduates and soon-to-be college graduates.

If you’re in college or a recent grad, or even if you’re thinking about a shift in careers, you will want to consider an internship. An internship can prove valuable in your career search, regardless of whether it is for pay, for college credit, or on a volunteer basis. Below are 5 reasons why internships matter.

Real world experience

Perhaps the most important reason to take an internship is to gain real-world experience in a career you are considering. Even if you don’t get a full-time job with the company you’ve interned for, you’ve likely built new skills and competencies, such as communication, project management, and teamwork.

Test drive for you . . .

While many careers sound exciting, all jobs come with routine, sometimes boring, tasks that need attending to. An internship offers you the opportunity to see what a job is really like. If you can’t handle the day-to-day for 3 months, you might want to reconsider your career!

 . . . and the company

Not only does an internship give you the opportunity to test drive a career, it gives the company you intern for the opportunity to get to know you, your skills and your work habits. If you decide that you love what you’re doing as an intern, and you perform well, you may be a shoe-in for a full-time job once your internship ends.

Differentiator

If you don’t get a job with the company you interned for, your internship can be a differentiator for you in your job search. Many other new job-seekers will have the same or similar classes, grades, and degree as you do, but your actual experience doing the work will make you stand out from the crowd.

Build your network

Whether you decide you are on the right career path or not, whether you get the job at the company of your dreams or not, internships offer you the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals. In this hyper-connected world, a job offer is often just one or two people away!

Did you do an internship? Do you think it helped you in preparing for your career, or not? We’d like to hear from you!

You’re Graduating…Now the Real Learning Begins!

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